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Casino Operator Melco Gets Into Lucrative eSports Market with Dedicated Venue

Major gaming and hospitality company Melco Resorts & Entertainment is looking to tap into the exploding eSports market with today’s opening of its first eSports venue. The facility, branded Macau Estadium, is located at the company’s Studio City integrated resort.

The brand new eSports venue is the first of its kind in the popular casino gambling hub and will aim to attract a new generation of customers, as Melco, similarly to its rival integrated resort operators, is looking to diversify its revenue sources beyond casino-style gambling.

News about Melco’s plan to venture into the rapidly growing eSports market first emerged earlier this year, when the company itself revealed in its Q1 report that it would open a dedicated facility at Studio City by the end of the year. Launched in 2015, Studio City is located in the heart of the Cotai Strip, known to be Asia’s equivalent of the legendary Las Vegas Strip.

Reports emerged earlier this week that in an invitation on behalf of Macau Estadium, Melco has announced today’s opening of its new operation.

This is not the company’s first foray into eSports. Back in April, it partnered Singapore-based consumer Internet platform Garena for the eSports 2018 League of Legends Master Series (LMS) Spring Final. The event took place at Studio City before a live audience of more than 2,000 people. Last summer, the resort played host to an eSports-focused festival.

Macau Looks to Tap Into New, Non-Gambling Markets

Ben Lee, LMS eSports Manager at Garena, said back in April that China might account for more than a half of the global eSports viewership, with the majority being aged 30 or below. It is important to note that Macau has been seeking to attract that particular demographic as part of a larger diversification strategy that is hoped to reduce the special administrative region’s current heavy reliance on gambling revenue.

Following Mainland China’s crackdown on corruption, which had a massive negative impact on Macau’s casino revenue, city authorities called on the six companies holding licenses to operate casino gambling within larger resorts to introduce offering that would attract various, non-gambling, groups of visitors.

Melco and its rival operators have clearly begun looking at eSports as one of the products that could help them and Macau, as a whole, diversify their revenue streams.

According to Newzoo’s latest Global eSports Market Report, the eSports market was worth around $655 million last year and is poised to grow 38% this year to $906 million and to $1.65 billion by 2021. Newzoo’s report further says that China and North America will generate more than a half (around 56%) of global eSports revenue this year.

With the opening of Melco’s first eSports facility, other operators could follow suit and look to extend their operations into that relatively new but rapidly growing market. Several other casino resort owners have already hosted or sponsored eSports events in Macau.

Late last year, SJM Holdings’ Grand Lisboa Hotel was the title sponsor of the MDL Macau Dota2 International Elite Invitational event that took place at the University of Macau. The tournament featured nine teams and a prize pool of around $300,000 and was the first of that scale to take place in the popular gambling hub. Earlier in 2017, Studio City hosted the GIRLGAMER 2017 eSports Festival, while Broadway Macau played host to that year’s edition of the China eSports Carnival.

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