Growing business of esports has cities and states taking notice

    The growing popularity of competitive video games is creating opportunities for governments at all levels, Route Fifty reports. 

    Although the history of esports dates to the 1970s, the term was coined in 2000 and has exploded in popularity in the last decade. In the U.S., the esports market is projected to reach $10.9 billion by 2032, with a compound annual growth rate of almost 21% between 2023 and 2032. In July, the International Olympic Committee will vote on the creation of new Olympic Esports Games. 

    Several public universities, including the Universities of Utah and California at Irvine as well as Ohio State University, offer esports scholarships and degrees. Since 2018, more than 8,600 high schools have added esports as an extracurricular activity. 

    Locally, Baton Rouge-based Southern University Law Center launched its Mixed Reality Virtual Gaming and Esports Institute in 2020. 

    Many municipalities are also seizing the esports opportunity. In October 2022, the Aurora, Colorado, Recreation and Sports Division set up an esports program at a rec center with gaming consoles and computers. A little more than a year later, Hampton, Virginia, began welcoming people at four community centers-turned-gaming-sites called “Tap In” Zone for Gamers. And two months ago, Baltimore’s first esports lab opened with 20 computers in the renovated Medfield Recreation Center. 

    States are taking notice of esports, as well. Recognizing the potential for large-scale gaming events to boost tourism, North Carolina launched an esports industry grant program that offers producers of esports events financial rebates of up to 25% on qualified expenses, provided that the company spends at least $150,000 in the state per event.

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