Atlantic City College To Offer Esports Degree As States Seek To Lead Sector

February 23, 2023
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A New Jersey college is poised to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in esports management, in the latest sign of the increasing importance of esports in key gaming states.

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A New Jersey college is poised to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in esports management, in the latest sign of the increasing importance of esports in key gaming states.

“We actually just received our board of trustees’ approval to offer [the degree],” Noel Criscione-Naylor, an associate professor at Stockton University, told VIXIO GamblingCompliance on Wednesday (February 22).

“Now, it’s not fully official yet because obviously, it has to go through the state approval process — which we are kind of knee-deep in right now — but we do have a commitment to support the industry and really develop the Atlantic City market to support growth in this particular niche area,” said Criscione-Naylor, who teaches hospitality, tourism and event management at Stockton.

Democratic Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey has instructed David Rebuck, the director of the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), to make the Garden State a national leader in esports.

Rebuck, who will celebrate his tenth anniversary as DGE director in May, has been New Jersey’s top regulator during its successful implementation of internet gambling and sports betting.

The decree at Atlantic City's home university comes after Murphy signed legislation in 2021 to facilitate wagering on esports via New Jersey's casinos, racetracks and online betting platforms. Further legislation to allow casinos to deploy additional skins for esports wagering and enable esports competitors to bet on themselves at events held in New Jersey was also approved by a state Assembly committee last week, although it is not clear whether that measure will ultimately become law.

Outside New Jersey, the Nevada Gaming Commission is set to soon adopt regulations to facilitate wagering on esports in the Silver State.

A bill in Arkansas to authorize paid esports contests online in the state but clarify that wagering on the outcome of esports events can only be offered by licensed casinos in the state is also advancing in the state's House of Representatives this year.

Meanwhile, in yet another sign of esports entering the mainstream, Ahman Green is listed as a lecturer and esports coach on the faculty webpage of the University of Nebraska where he played on a national championship football team in 1995.

After college, Green played 12 years in the National Football League (NFL), including eight seasons with the Packers where he set the team’s rushing record of 8,322 yards.

Green has said he developed a love for video games while growing up in Nebraska, and his teammates in the NFL often relaxed during halftime by playing video games against each other.

Upon retiring from playing football in August 2011, Green became more immersed in esports and was offered the chance to become the first head coach of the esports team at Lakeland University in Plymouth, Wisconsin, about 75 miles south of Green Bay.

“I know what it takes to be a football coach, and I had an idea of what it takes to be an esports coach, which is the same commitment as being a traditional sports coach,” Green told Online Sports Database.

Green said he took the esports job at Lakeland in February 2020, one day after his 43rd birthday, because it was “something I hadn’t done before.”

On December 30, 2022, Green announced on Twitter he was returning to his alma mater as a lecturer and esports coach.

Although the esports industry, like commercial gaming, saw a dip in revenue in 2020 and 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the upside was more players had more time to learn and participate in esports.

The global esports market size is expected to grow from $1.41bn in revenue in 2022, not including revenue related to betting, to $1.63bn in 2023 at a compound annual growth rate of 16.1 percent, according to the Business Research Company.

Additional reporting by James Kilsby.

See also: Esports – Are Regulators Up For The Challenge?

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