By: Joshua Gras, Follow South Jersey Higher Education Intern
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — In May, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority struck a deal with Stockton University to help create a new eSports innovation center located on the university’s Atlantic City campus. The NJEDA pledged to give $200,000 dollars in order to help build the center and support staff members.
Stockton has placed a big emphasis on growing its eSports teams. The university’s FIFA players, for example, won the first-place title in the Eastern College Athletic Conference last fall. FIFA is the leading soccer video game with a large competitive scene throughout the world. Stockton currently has its own dedicated gaming lab with top-of-the-line computers that allow players to train and improve their skills.
New Jersey is quickly becoming a hub for eSports, as many other colleges and high schools begin to invest heavily into the future of competitive video gaming.
”eSports is a large and rapidly growing industry that has the potential to provide significant economic benefits to communities throughout New Jersey,” Tim Sullivan, the CEO of New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority, said in a release. “The eSports Innovation Center at Stockton University is a timely project that will help to establish New Jersey as a hub for the US eSports industry.”
In addition to growing the competition itself, open eSports betting is now on the horizon as well. A New Jersey State Senate committee voted in favor of a bill that would allow gambling companies to accept eSports bets in March. The Sports Entertainment Group wants to be the first of these companies to allow gambling on eSports. New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement approved the EEG’s request to be a licensed gambling operator in New Jersey and hopes to allow customers to place bets either this summer or in the fall.
Harris-Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the group that owns both the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils, is also planning a “significant investment” into eSports in New Jersey, according to a statement from the NJEDA.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.