As the industry prepares to convene at the first ever ICE North America (May 13 to 15, Boston, MA, USA), Wayne Kimmel, Managing Partner at venture capital platform SeventySix Capital has said physical and digital betting can coexist and why esports is being built from the stadium down rather than the ground up.
Mr. Kimmel said: “This is the most exciting time I’ve seen in the last 20 years for entrepreneurs and innovators who want to do something in a massive new market in the United States. It’s exciting because it reminds me so much of the early 90s with the birth of the internet and truly represents an opportunity for entrepreneurs, innovators and big thinkers to come into this industry and totally disrupt it. Gaming had previously been an industry just focused in Nevada, and now as the industry is scaling across the country the opportunities are seemingly endless.”
Whilst highlighting the growth across tech, Mr. Kimmel is keen to stress this a key time for land-based too. “Our investment thesis at SeventySix Capital is all about the convergence between the physical and digital worlds so we take a holistic view to see what we believe can be done better,” he explained. “We’re seeing and investing in some really unique opportunities specifically with regards to data collection, data analytics and the media. As sports betting and esports continue to grow and shape themselves, we’re interested in the broadcasters and how they’re going to be describing these games differently in this new era.”
He believes that esports is finally coming out of the shadows. “Some super players and kids who are playing in their parents’ basements now recognise they can play in tournaments and leagues or get a scholarship to go to college by being an esports player,” he explained. “That’s the biggest shock for parents, when I tell parents their child can get a scholarship for esports at over 100 colleges across the US. They’ll say, ‘but my child isn’t an esports player, he only plays League of Legends.’ It is so new, people aren’t even aware, it’s very, very exciting.
“Esports started with the huge pro leagues and now we need to build the grassroots, build the little leagues, build the kids programmes, build the high school tournaments and college level. That’s the opportunity that we’re excited to be investors in. You can’t just go to your local gym and set up 12 computers and equipment and play Overwatch against each other thinking it’s esports. Just playing online is not who we are as humans, we like to be together, with our friends, our fans, and other players. It’s a fascinating time and we look forward to helping build this whole thing up with support from an enthusiastic industry when we meet in Boston this month.”