What The Rise Of E-Sports In Atlanta Means For Georgia Gambling’s Future

Written By Carter Breazeale on November 4, 2022 - Last Updated on November 8, 2022
Esports grows in Atlanta and hopefully a fond sentiment for legal sports gambling in GA

For as much culture and southern charm as the city has to offer, Atlanta is a bastion of burgeoning industries. A nerve center in the South for companies looking to gain a foothold in their respective market. Atlanta has seen an influx of e-sports companies earmarking the city for major events.

That immediately begs two questions. Is Atlanta on the cusp of becoming a US destination for international e-sports competitions and companies? And if so, could this be another avenue back to legal sports gambling in Georgia?

Sports meets the digital age

E-sports, for the unfamiliar, are video gaming competitions. Traditionally, they are of the sports variety: think Madden or FIFA.

They’re wildly popular, with Insider Intelligence estimating that by year’s end, these events will average 29.6 million monthly viewers. The rise of popular online streaming platforms like Twitch has fueled the rise of e-sports.

E-sports have uncorked market opportunities for a litany of advertisers. Furthermore, e-sports created global events that pit top players on their platforms against one another.

One such event is the League of Legends World Championship. And the semifinals took place at State Farm Arena over Halloween weekend. League of Legends touts an active player base of around 117 million worldwide.

Figures such as that reveal why e-sports has seen a meteoric rise in popularity. And in a gaming-centric culture, reveals why it won’t plateau any time soon.

NBA 2K franchise home in Atlanta

Those figures also bode well for Atlanta as it angles to play host to this blossoming industry. One of the city’s major sports teams is also keeping its e-sports wing in-house.

Hawks Talon Gaming, an e-sports franchise owned by the Atlanta Hawks, opened a dedicated gaming facility last year. The gaming takes place inside State Farm Arena. They created a 4,172 square-foot space for its five-player roster of NBA 2K players to hone their craft. NBA 2K calls it The Gaming House.

E-sports and sports gambling in Georgia

Where sports — of the digital and analog variety — meet media, gambling avenues are sure to follow. That’s no exception for e-sports as its exploding popularity creates a unique niche among the sports gambling crowd.

Anthony Gaud, the creative director of G3 ESports, provided his insight on the Georgia gambling landscape:

“It’s similar to online (casino) wagering: Instead of playing blackjack or poker, you’re playing Angry Birds. That environment is coming. There’s going to be a wagering angle, probably a large one. It’s going to be a really big thing.”

Associated Press

The Nevada Gaming Control Board recently voted unanimously to advance a formal proposal paving the way for legal gambling on e-sports. Should Nevada adopt the proposal, it would provide a template for other states to follow suit.

New e-sports gaming welcome in Altlanta

It’s a big thing that Atlanta is getting in on the ground floor of the e-sports industry. In all likelihood, Georgia will propose another legal sports gambling measure during the upcoming 2023 legislative session.

Sadly, the House and Senate came up short of passing legal Georgia gambling in 2022. However, members in each chamber will likely get a new measure onto the governor’s desk to sign next year.

Therefore, establishing a community infrastructure that’s supportive of e-sports is important should that measure pass. It also ensures that Atlanta continues as the go-to city for emerging tech and media businesses.

Atlanta will do what it always does, embrace opportunity and challenge, and continue to welcome newcomers and new companies.

Photo by Dreamstime

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Carter Breazeale

Carter Breazeale is a freelance journalist with a focus on sports, business, and the business of sports. An Atlanta native currently residing in Orlando, Carter graduated from The University of Central Florida. Since 2018 he has covered the Atlanta Falcons for SBNation's site, The Falcoholic.

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