The likelihood of a poker player being into video games is roughly on par with their owning a form of cryptocurrency. In a word, high.
So it only makes sense that the World Series of Poker has partnered up with premier esports company UMG Media Corp. to deliver players a first of its kind competitive video gaming experience.
Throughout this summer’s poker festivities, WSOP players and spectators alike will be able to compete across a variety of popular gaming titles from the newly-minted UMG Esports Stage, located front and center on the stage of the Pavilion Room at the Rio Casino.
Poker meet esports, esports meet poker
According to a recent press release, the UMG Esports Stage will be open for everyday of the WSOP event, with a full schedule of events posted on the UMG Gaming mobile application.
We have confirmed that real-money wagering on video gaming contests will not be permitted. Instead, the Stage will act more as a sort of free amusement for players, designed specifically with the intention of providing players with something to do during their downtime.
During the WSOP, players and spectators will be able to download a special UMG App (available in both the Apple Store and Google Play). Upon completing the straightforward registration process, players can then use the app to scan one of the available gaming stations located on the UMG Esports Stage. This will grant them access to the station, at which point an attendant will help players set up a match.
The entire process is detailed in a short video, located here.
Currently, the games available for play from the Stage will include Fortnite, Hearthstone, and FIFA, among others. There will be both Xbox One and PC gaming stations.
The esports phenomenon
Esports activity has been slowly ramping up in Las Vegas over the past couple of years. Several casinos, including the Downtown Grand and MGM have embraced the vertical as part of their offering, with Downtown Grand debuting an esports lounge in 2016, and MGM going live with its adult arcade Level Up later that year.
Also in 2016, the Grand received permission to take bets on esports events. Fast forward one year later, and the casino was taking wagers on the League of Legends Championship, which is among the most popular esports events of the calendar.
But it wasn’t until very recently that one casino took a massive leap of faith on the burgeoning format. This casino was Luxor, which in March of this year debuted the first permanent esports arena on the Strip. The 30,000 sq. ft venue is already hosting a variety of high-profile events with six-figure prize pools.
Is this a good look for the WSOP?
The juxtaposition of esports and poker is a natural one. Gamers tend to be above the age of 18, with a high percentage in their 20s and 30s (average gamer age is 35). They’re also predominantly male, although the prevalence of female gamers has risen sharply over the years.
These demographics match up exceedingly well with the profile of poker players, who also tend to be younger males. Already, competitive games like Blizzard’s Hearthstone have captured the hearts of many a poker player, and FIFA should play well to the WSOP’s European contingent.
For UMG Gaming, its featured stage in the Pavillion Room proves a stellar opportunity to raise awareness of its brand and offering. And it won’t be the last time the company makes in appearance at the Rio, as sources say the company is planning on building a larger esports area in the Masquerade Village of the Rio.
UMG also hosts an esports portal, where it does support real-money gaming in select jurisdictions.