The University of Utah announced that its forming a “Varsity ESports” team through its Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) video game development program. It is starting with League of Legends as its first game with additional games in the offing. It’s the first eSports program in the Power Five conferences.
The EAE program has been ranked the No. 1 video game design program in the nation.
There are multiple eSports teams sponsored by college gaming clubs across the U.S. but this is the first of its kind where a university department is sponsoring a team.
According to Bloomberg, gamers on the Utah’s League of Legends team will receive partial scholarships at first with a long-term plan of expanding to more games and monetizing the effort through marketing and sponsorship deals that will lead to full scholarships.
This is a sign that eSports is being considered as more than a club sport on college campuses. Certainly the opportunity to monetize the endeavor is a reason for the push. With conferences seeking content for its cable networks and sponsors looking to market to a young demo, eSports is gaining traction.
New Jersey Democratic Senator Frank Pallone has issued a statement regarding unregulated online gambling and underage betting in which he specifically pointed out esports gambling and skin gambling.
“Gambling is taking new forms—from daily fantasy sports, to betting on e-sports, and even online casino games using virtual ‘skins’ instead of cash—that attempt to bypass the law,” the Senator went on to state in a press release, “Current federal gambling laws are hopelessly out of date, leaving the American public vulnerable to unscrupulous behavior. No matter the form of the games, we must ensure integrity, accountability, and basic consumer protections, including appropriate age limits, are in place.”
EA, makers of Madden NFL 17, have docked the prize winnings of Chris “Dubby” McFarland after he failed to comply with their requests to refrain from derogatory comments made on his social media account.
According to an EA release, his posts were “referenced inappropriate content.” It violated EA’s Code of Conduct. EA met with McFarland and was warned of the inappropriate posts. Yet, he continued and was subsequently docked $3,000 from his grand prize winnings of $75,000.
Notably, the release does not mention the withholding as a fine. Yet, it was due to a violation of a Code of Conduct.
ESPN reports that the NBA and Take Two Interactive have joined forced to create an eSports League based on the NBA 2K series.
Its anticipated that each of the NBA teams will eventually have a team in this newly developed league. The teams will consist of 5 individuals playing out a 5-month season. The league is scheduled to begin in 2018. The teams will play head-to-head and have playoffs leading up to a championship.
The NBA will hold an initial draft of esports players, and each NBA franchise will pick five to play as its eLeague team. They will draw salaries, train and essentially treat the NBA 2K eLeague as full-time jobs during the season.
It’s clear that this is the next step for esports to become more mainstream. The NBA investment in this league is likely substantial with the prospects of it becoming a lucrative stream of revenue for the league. The report indicates that they will hold events to promote the league, sign sponsorships, sell tickets and produce merchandise.
Perhaps the only drawback for those into the realism of the video games, is that real-life players will not be represented in the games. Players will come up with their own avatars. Perhaps the inability to use NBA players likenesses is an issue that has yet to be discussed between the league and the players union.
A British court has ordered two men to pay fines and costs for breaking gambling laws as their web site allowed minors to gamble on Premier League Football matches using a virtual currency.
The Guardian reports that FutGalaxy was a “social gaming” website which had no age restrictions and let minors use a credit card to place bets in a virtual currency earned on Electronic Art’s FIFA soccer video game.
The site made the equivalent $120,000 US dollars from July 2015 to February 2016.
His You Tube video enticed gamers to go to the site advertising that there were “no age restrictions.”
FutGalaxy took bets on matches played in the UK, France, Germany and Italy.
Valve Corporation announced late last week that it would begin blocking Team Fortress 2 gambling accounts. This comes on the heels of a skin betting issue in which the state of Washington demanded that the company immediately ban of the transfer of weapons on its Steam platform.