A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the opening of the Esports Innovation Center (EIC) at Stockton University, which aims to put Atlantic City and the state on the map as leaders in the burgeoning esports sector.
The ceremony took place during the first Casino Esports Conference on the East Coast, which was held at Stockton’s Atlantic City campus on Oct. 18 and 19.
The new facility, which was set up in partnership with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and Stockton, is located on the Boardwalk as part of the University’s Residential Complex.
“The EIC will be a driver of strategic workforce development and will help to attract industry-supporting businesses and events,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan.
Sullivan noted that the governor’s economic development plan is focused on bolstering high-growth sectors that create inclusive career opportunities, such as esports, which is expected to generate nearly $1.4 billion in global revenue in 2022.
“The EIC, as a center of knowledge and innovation, is adding to the momentum in this emerging and particularly exciting industry,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan added that the EIC is the latest addition to Atlantic City’s resurgence and diversification of the economy, which is bringing jobs, private investment and new activity to the city, in addition to the casinos.
But EIC Executive Director Andrew Weilgus said that convincing casinos to get involved with the esports space is a big part of the new facility’s mission. “We want to help define and craft a casino strategy where they can take advantage of this growing boom of esports, both with events that come into Atlantic City, as well as potential wagering opportunities,” said Weilgus.
He pointed out that the EIC is partnering with several local community groups, such as the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City, to hold events promoting esports. Weilgus explained that its all part of an effort to grow the esports ecosystem, and eventually attracting other esports companies to set up locations and build games in Atlantic City.
“We really believe we are going to create a great ecosystem where the next generation of esports games can be built and tested here,” said Weilgus. “All of these technologies are advancing. They are in their infancy. The center is here to promote and craft these ideas.”
Sullivan believes Stockton and New Jersey are “poised to have a leadership position in this industry.”
“This center is doing cutting-edge policy and innovation work and is bringing together higher education research to attract big and small companies,” said Sullivan. “This innovative synergy will bring long-term change in Atlantic City, Atlantic County, and South Jersey.”