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The Esports Forum, hosted at Rob Roy’s Innevation Center on May 17, showcased the long-term investments that are being made in research, policy, and infrastructure for the Esports and gaming industries, locally, nationally, and abroad. The event included industry updates from the UNLV Office of Economic Development, UNLV International Gaming Institute, Spawn Point, and Caesar’s Entertainment on what each organization is focused on in the world of Esports.

Black Fire Innovation, a brand new and innovative public-private partnership between UNLV and Caesar’s Entertainment, was discussed at the event which is being initiated to fuel gaming and hospitality innovation. “Esports is the hottest topic in every boardroom on the strip, particularly with respect to Millennials,” said Robert Rippee, Director of both the UNLV Hospitality Lab and Esports Lab. “What better place to begin the journey to understand its relevance and application to the casino and hospitality industry than right here at UNLV?” Black Fire Innovation will be located at the UNLV Harry Reid Research & Technology Park in a state-of-the-art living research laboratory which is set to open later this year.

Another recent Esports development has been the formation of The Nevada Esports Alliance (NVEA), a non-profit organization comprised of stakeholders in Nevada’s Esports ecosystem. “NVEA was created to promote Nevada as an Esports hub,” said Brett Abarbanel, Director of Research at the UNLV International Gaming Institute. “Nevada can be one of the many global Esports hubs because of its prime location, hospitality infrastructure, and gold standard in gambling regulation.” The goal of NVEA is to disseminate data that’s relevant to Nevada’s Esports development, share commercial and legal resources, and connect like-minded individuals interested in doing business at the intersection of gambling and Esports.

The Forum concluded with a presentation from Drew Brunson, Esports Lead at Caesar’s Entertainment, around different ways the hospitality industry is engaging Esports. It was just two years ago that Caesars made the investment in hosting Esports tournaments while also slowly incorporating Esports gaming into a few of its global properties. One of the first properties to make that leap was The Rio Hotel & Casino, with their Esports lounge and restaurant, The Wall. This venue immerses guests in gamer culture and offers cash tournaments, helping to make things interesting for spectators and competitors alike.

To learn more about Black Fire Innovation and the real-life hotel and casino conditions they’re replicating for product testing, research, and training, visit their website here.

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