Darryl McEwen

{standaloneHead}Darryl McEwen{/standaloneHead}

Caesars Atlantic City is betting that spectators will pay to see professional and amateur Gears of War 4 video game players face off in the inaugural Gears Pro Circuit Atlantic City Open Friday to Sunday, March 31 to April 2.

Nearly 50 teams from around the world are hoping to snag some of the more than $200,000 in prize money.

Think of it like a slot tournament. While slot players are at the mercy of a random number generator, video gamers can bolster their chances of winning with practice. Practicing on a slot machine won’t increase your chances of winning, but it may help deplete your bank account.

For Caesars and Atlantic City, this is just another way to attract visitors. This event is one of a global circuit where players throughout North America and around the world compete in tournaments for millions of dollars in prizes.

Teams — including five players and one coach — pay $200 to participate. Spectators pay $20 for the weekend. VIP tickets are available for $55. For complete infor go to ugcevents.com.

Some Las Vegas casinos have been offering similar tournaments, albeit on a much smaller scale, for nearly two years.

Competitive skill-based video game tournaments are held weekly at the Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino, the Downtown Grand and The D.

Last month Millennial Esports opened a 15,000-square-foot, 200-seat gaming arena in downtown Las Vegas.

The tournaments feature such popular video games as Madden NFL, FIFA, Call of Duty, Mortal Combat XL and Rocket League. Winners can leave with cash prizes ranging from $150 to $250.

“Not only is this another amenity for our current customers, but we are seeing an increasing demand for skill-based games from a new millennial audience,” Affinity Gaming CEO Michael Silberling says. Silver Sevens is owned and operated by Affinity. “We want to be on the forefront of engaging with this growing community.”

As interest around the world continues to grow, the video game industry has seen a significant increase in live competitions.

Market researcher Newzoo predicts these tournaments — known generically as eSports — could be a billion dollar industry by 2019. As they continue to grow in popularity and viewership, eSports may be a new market for cities like Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

“Ideally, you would have people coming from all over to compete, with people paying to come and bet like a sportsbook,” Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett says.

Recreational gambler Darryl D. McEwen, a former professional journalist, is president of his own consulting firm that manages several small national and international trade associations, and provides public relations and fundraising services for a number of charitable organizations. Email Darryl at MrACCasino@gmail.com

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