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.
As Major League Soccer opened its season earlier this month and with it came news from MLS Commissioner Don Garber that he would not be opposed to legalized gambling.
Speaking at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Geekwire was able to catch up with him. Garber spoke at Geekwire’s Sports Tech Summit last summer.
“We have a project going on now to really dig in deeply and understand it. I’ll be the third commissioner (along with NBA’s Adam Silver and MLB’s Rob Manfred) in and say I’m very open to understanding how we can get more engaged in this market in a way that I think if done properly, can be regulated and managed and controlled. I’ll join the chorus of saying it’s time to bring it out of the dark ages. We’re doing what we can to figure out how to manage that effectively.”
In addition to this news that the MLS will be open to hearing about the possiblility of regulated gambling of its sports, he announced a Facebook streaming deal which will expand its reach across an untapped platform. The MLS will be the first league with an extended package on Facebook.
Embracing new ideas and technology are two characteristics new to leagues. The opportunity to engage with as many fans as possible is key as well as monetizing them.
The Wall Street Journal reports that video game companies are addressing cheaters that are taking advantages of glitches and after-market software in their titles.
With eSports being a lucrative part of a video game’s revenues, companies are searching for ways to curb cheaters that try to take advantage.
In my latest from the NW Asian Weekly, I take a look at what industry professionals look for in diversity and what it means to their respective organizations.
ESPN reports that 5 Richmond University baseball players have been ruled ineligible by the NCAA due to their involvement in fantasy sports.
The university, through the athletic department, decline to offer further comment.
Per ESPN, the NCAA considers fantasy sports contests with an entry fee to be a form of sports wagering and therefore off-limits to student-athletes, regardless of sports.
In the state of Virginia fantasy sports, including Daily Fantasy Sports, are legal.
According to the original report from the Richmond Times Dispatch, the players were involved in Fantasy Football. However, there is no detail as to whether it was Daily Fantasy Sports are a regular weekly fantasy football league.
While the amounts that the players were playing for were not disclosed, the overarching issue was the players involved in fantasy sports.
A bill to legalize Daily Fantasy Sports in the state of Kentucky has failed in the state’s General Assembly.
Similar to other DFS bills across the country, the bill would define DFS as a game requiring skill rather than luck. It would also require a DFS operator to register with the state.
The bill fell on the House floor by just one vote, 37-36
H/t: Sara Friedman
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.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters that eSports players are a “different kind of athlete.”
Commissioner Silver’s comments came during NBA’s All-Star weekend. The league recently announced an eSports league to coincide with the NBA.
NBA players made a guest appearance at the 2K17 All-Star Tournament in New Orleans to face off against a five-man team named “Still Trill” that had just won the video game’s tournament championship.
Still Trill won a $250,000 prize for the championship as well as getting to meet the likes of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
H/t: Sports Techie
Earlier this week, a New York Senate committee unanimously passed an online poker bill in another effort to legalize it in the state.
The Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee voted unanimously to move the bill along to the Assembly.
The bill authorizes the New York State Gaming Commission to issue 11 online poker licenses to casinos and tribal casinos.