The New Jersey Economic Development Authority will give Stockton University $200,000 in funding and staff support to help establish the university’s Innovation Center, intended to position Atlantic City as a hub for the growing esports industry.
The NJEDA board approved a memorandum of understanding for the contribution, announced May 14.
“Atlantic City has always been a top destination for entertainment in New Jersey, so establishing the city as an epicenter of the growing esports industry is a logical and exciting step forward,” said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver in a prepared statement. “The esports Innovation Center at Stockton University is an innovative project that will work in tandem with our ongoing revitalization and job creation efforts to help pave the way for equitable and lasting economic growth in Atlantic City. I’m excited to see the NJEDA partner with Stockton University to bring the Center to life.”
Esports, or competitive video gaming, is rapidly growing as an industry globally. Total revenues in North America are expected to reach $250 million this year and global revenues are expected to approach $9 billion by 2025, according to the NJEDA.
The esports industry has begun to grow in the state. Major players in the industry such as G3 esports, Amazon’s Twitch streaming service, esports Entertainment Group, and Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment are making or planning significant investments in the state, according to the announcement.
The esports Innovation Center at Stockton University will enhance New Jersey’s position in the industry, create new academic and workforce development opportunities, and support local economic development. The center will identify industry-wide technology development opportunities and host “hack-a-thons”, and will work with private sector companies and colleges and universities to develop programs teaching the skills most in-demand in the esports industry.
The center will work with the Division of Gaming Enforcement and independent bodies that govern integrity in competitions to position the state as a national leader in regulation and integrity practices for esports, and will also promote diversity and inclusion and healthy gaming practices.
“Establishing New Jersey as the State of Innovation requires thinking outside the box and supporting new industries that have shown strong potential for sustainable, equitable growth,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan in a prepared statement.
“Esports is a large and rapidly growing industry that has the potential to provide significant economic benefits to communities throughout New Jersey. The esports Innovation Center at Stockton University is a timely project that will help to establish New Jersey as a hub for the U.S. esports industry and will create new opportunities for New Jersey businesses and workers to enter the sector,” Sullivan said.