DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- In a sport that has quickly been gaining international recognition and acclaim, esports continues to break industry expectations.
According to Casinos EnLigne, esports revenue in 2023 is expected to reach $1.6 billion across media rights, streaming, publisher fees, merchandising and ticketing, and sponsorships and advertising.
"We want a piece of that," said Carlos Lopez, who serves as the esports director for Bad Machines, a first-of-its-kind esports bar in downtown Durham. "Durham is cool man! This is it. This is where you're supposed to do something like this."
Bad Machines is located at 108 East Main Street in Durham and looks to attract the fighting game community to the area.
"This is a throwback to kind of when things were before the internet. We want people to come in and enjoy it and have a good time and meet other folks," Lopez said.
Owner, Glen Swan, agrees as he described the booming college scene in the Bull City.
In Wake County, the Greater Raleigh Esports Local Organizing Committee looks to contribute to a slice of the multi-billion dollar impact esports is projected to make this year.
"People are starting to realize that greater Raleigh is a great place to live, and work, and play," said committee co-chair Ed Tomasi. "And we want to continue those same type of ideas and motivations through the gaming and esports industry that we have here and that's thriving."
Per Tomasi, GRELOC organizes six to eight events in the area per year, ranging in revenue from $200,000 to $1.5 million.
"It's all part of this ecosystem," Tomasi said. "If the national and international sports producers don't see an active and engaged and successful regional, they're not going to be attracted as a national or an international--and it goes the same for the regionals. The regionals are not going to be attracted to greater Raleigh if they don't see a sustainable local community."
Tomasi hopes PNC Arena in Raleigh can hold space for national and international esports events to continue building the area as a premier destination.
"We know we want to grow and support our local and someday become regional. Our regionals to someday become national. And those nationals to attract those international events," said Tomasi.