The growth of esports in recent years has captured the attention of various major players in business, sports and entertainment, but a recent development has seen the government of North Carolina stake its bets on the sector.

The development has seen Roy Cooper, the Governor of North Carolina, announce a $5 million Esports Industry Grant Fund in the state’s latest budget, which will go towards supporting esports events and production.

Discussing the development on the latest edition of the ESI Digest, Esports Insider Sub-Editor Tom Daniels observed that the news could see the city of Raleigh, North Carolina attract greater attention from esports organisations.

“It’s important to know that North Carolina is the first and only state in the United States to qualify and incentivise eSports productions regardless of where it is incorporated,” he noted. 

The announcement was confirmed by the Subnation Media and the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, the latter of which was identified by Daniels as a ‘major player’, having previously been responsible for attracting the Rainbow Six Siege tournament to the city.

“I think having a state sponsored grant will definitely attract more eSports events to integrate Raleigh and into North Carolina as a whole,” Daniels continued.

“It’s very interesting to see the state really put aside a significant chunk, or at least $5 million, of its budget into eSports, specifically esports productions and into esports events. 

“Obviously the only thing is how much will that $5 million actually get you? It’s unknown right now, but I’d be really interested to see if we can get more tournaments in that region and see if North Carolina can  become an esport state – it definitely seems to be putting more emphasis on eSports as a result of being on this budget.”

The state funding demonstrates the increasing draw esports is posing to a number of different players throughout the economy, with the space having also caught the attention of the betting and gaming industry.

Earlier this year, esports-focused operator Esports Entertainment Group (EEG) projected revenue of $100 million – showcasing the lucrative opportunities in the sector – having experienced substantial growth in 2021.

“We’ve gone from in the last 14 months that’s our listing on NASDAQ from a revenue of a couple $100,000 to $100 million in guidance,” explained EEG CEO, Grant Johnson. “We’ve gone from having one licence to six tier one licences, and with staffing we’ve gone from 12 to 250.”

However, the rise of the sector could pose some new challenges for some companies with regards to marketing and advertising, as argued by Esports Technologies’ Chief Marketing Officer, Mark Thorne, at the SBC Summit CIS.

He remarked: “The eSports customer is not necessarily somebody that’s already in the database of a traditional sportsbook, it’s a younger audience – it’s no good hammering them with TV adverts because they’re not watching TV, it’s no good doing newspaper adverts because they’re not reading newspapers, so you have to reach them using the new mediums that they are using to consume their sport of choice – in this case, esports.”

Esports continues to grow as North Carolina govt announces funding