“Esports is not going anywhere and we see a great opportunity for the gambling industry to add it to their entertainment”

In an exclusive interview with Yogonet Gaming News, Ari Fox, the CEO and Producer of Gameacon & CEC Live, sheds light on the initiatives and significant takeaways from the 2023 events held by the CEC (Casino Esports Conference).

Delving into the evolution of the gaming landscape, Fox elaborates on the pivotal role of these events in the convergence of traditional gaming and esports, offering insights into the recent strides and future prospects within the industry.

What were the standout takeaways from the events CEC held in 2023? In which ways did CEC promote the convergence of traditional gaming and esports over the past year?


We held two events in 2023. The first was in Las Vegas from Feb 1 – March 2. The takeaway from this conference was the impact esports had during the pandemic and how regardless of its stagnant venture capital growth in the marketplace in 2022 and 2023, the “sport” of esports will continue to grow through grassroots on the college levels. This will allow for more opportunities regarding content for wagering.


Our second CEC was in New Jersey, working in coordination with the Esports Innovation Center at Stockton University. I believe the takeaway was that there are entirely new divisions of departments that can be built within the brick-and-mortar and iGaming space, meaning that casinos and online can create departments within their companies that can help facilitate skill-gaming along with wagering on esports.


We also covered the importance of Artificial Intelligence and cybersecurity as the younger generations come more into the fold. Younger people tend to be apt to be able to use technology for entertainment as well as “how to crack the code” and use AI and other means to get a leg up or an edge on the house.


Could you elaborate on the plans and events that the CEC has in the pipeline for 2024, and how these will contribute to further bridge the gap between casinos and esports?


The CEC is being held only once in 2024. This event is and will be our yearly flagship conference that will have more of a Native American focus since we will be holding the conference at Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, California.


At this event, we will cover the reason(s) why California has not yet adopted online sports wagering and how Native America is embracing younger generations with inventive and creative ways, like holding Super Smash tournaments weekly and building a customer base that defies the casino executives’ false pretense that younger people do not have disposable income.


Like our hosts, Agua Caliente Casino, who are proudly taking the lead in forging forward toward skill-based options like Super Smash Brother tournaments, we will be discussing how other brick-and-mortar casinos can do the same.


Also, with iGaming, we tend to see that offering skilled-based games or even free-to-play games is a great way to engage younger players and customers in brick-and-mortar locations. We will also be covering AI, VR, cybersecurity, payment systems and blockchain in our technology educational tracks.


Brothers Ben and Ari Fox


From the CEC’s viewpoint, how has the esports sector evolved over the past year, and what pivotal changes do you anticipate in 2024, both in terms of industry dynamics and consumer engagement?


The Esports sector continues to grow at a steady pace through the college ranks. The professional levels with regards to communities such as the Fighting Game Community, First Person Shooter(s) and others are still attracting crowds both in person and online viewership.


I think there will be more racing games introduced as we move forward but overall, it is nice to see the craze and hype of esports level off, so we can see real growth in this sector. The point is that this genre of “video gaming” or Esports is not going anywhere. It is constantly evolving. Since we began the CEC in 2017, we passionately believe that there is a great opportunity for the gambling industry to add this sector to their gambling entertainment.


It has not happened yet because the gambling industry has not been shown the way to do it. You cannot understand this younger audience from an ivory tower. We, meaning the “Fox Brothers”, also run Gameacon, a video gaming convention for “video gaming” enthusiasts. There we learn and understand how to engage, and how to connect to this audience. Then we bring this knowledge to the gimbaling industry which we have been engaged with for over 25 years


The key to engaging this demographic is allowing your property and your employees to be open to learning and engaging in various esports games and integrating them into the casino’s entertainment offering like Agua Caliente Casino has done. We hope we will see you all there on March 19-21 2024. To find out more information please head to our website.