ATLANTIC CITY — A U.K.-based net-work solutions and data center provider wants to invest $5 million to build a nearly 6,000- square-foot secured server in the Convention Center, which could bolster efforts for the resort to become a regional hub for competitive online gaming.

A deal between the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and Continent 8 to lease underutilized space in the Atlantic City Convention Center for the construction and operation of an international data center is close to being finalized, according to representatives with both entities.

The data center would serve to increase bandwidth capacity and security for web-based services throughout the city and, potentially, the greater South Jersey region.

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With ample convention, arena and theater space throughout the city and the incoming technological upgrades, Atlantic City has an opportunity to be at the forefront of expanding esports and competitive online gaming on the East Coast, said Kevin Ortzman, regional president for Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s Atlantic City properties and a CRDA board member.

“Atlantic City has the capacity to be able to bring in and really go after that specific business segment,” Ortzman said.

Esports is anticipated to generate nearly $906 million in revenue worldwide in 2018, a figure that is up from the $493 million in 2016. Revenue estimates are expected to grow to $1.65 billion by 2021, according to Newzoo, an online gaming data provider, with 56 percent of that revenue generating from China and North America.

Ortzman said recent esports events in the city have been successful, and more opportunities may exist to capitalize on a growing industry that appeals to the coveted millennial demographic. Caesars Atlantic City hosted the city’s first esports event, Gears of War Pro Circuit, in 2017, and Harrah’s Resort held the Rainbow Six Siege Pro League event in May.

The challenge, he said, has been finding ways to monetize esports, since a segment of the target audience is underage and cannot gamble. But, he added, the esports events provided a marginal increase for food, beverage and hotel sales.

“This is an area that Caesars is really focused on as we try to create new, appealing, innovative gaming, particularly for the millennials,” Ortzman said, before noting the generation will become the largest consumer spending group in the next five years.

Barbara DeMarco, vice president of Porzio Governmental Affairs, a Trenton-based office of the law firm Porzio, Bromberg & Newman in Morristown, Morris County, said the project has the capacity to allow for large-scale esports and online gaming events. DeMarco said Continent 8, which already has data rooms for online gaming at Caesars Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino, will be able to provide the technological infrastructure required to effectively and securely host competitive online gaming events throughout Atlantic City.

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“My client (Continent 8) saw a real opportunity in (Atlantic City),” DeMarco said. “The data center in the Convention Center offers space to grow and, eventually, serve the greater South Jersey region by expanding network capabilities and security.”

DeMarco said Continent 8 has already invested close to $2 million in Atlantic City, a large portion of which was spent on becoming the only independent provider to receive a Casino Service Industry Enterprise license from the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Marshall Spevak, deputy executive director of the CRDA, said the deal is a “win-win” for the city, the authority and Continent 8. The terms of the lease were approved by CRDA in June and the deal should be in place by the end of the month, Spevak said.

The lease would be for 10 years with two five-year extensions at approximately $101,000 per year.

“(Continent 8) is an internationally known company who brings high-level services,” Spevak said. “They will be a great fit for Atlantic City.”

Contact: 609-272-7222 DDanzis@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressDanzis

Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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