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September 26, 2018

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Security a priority for Las Vegas esports venues after Florida shooting

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Alex Igelman, CEO of Millennial Esports Arena in downtown Las Vegas, said his organization has always taken the safety of its guests seriously, using a mix of private security and law enforcement for past events.

A Las Vegas esports venue is reviewing its security protocols following the deadly mass shooting last weekend at a gaming tournament in Florida.

A gamer became upset after he was eliminated from a Madden NFL ’19 video game tournament and retaliated by opening fire on other players at the Jacksonville gaming venue. He killed two and injured 11 before taking his own life.

The finals of the Madden tournament were scheduled for Oct. 11-13 in Las Vegas, but Electronic Arts, developer of the Madden series, canceled the remaining events in the series following the shooting.

Millennial Esports and UNLV

Millennial Esports CEO Alex Igelman speaks at an event marking the opening night of UNLV's academic esports class and lab, inside an actual esports arena on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Launch slideshow »

“While these qualifying events are operated independently by partners, we work with them to ensure competitive integrity and to gather feedback from players,” said Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts. “We have made a decision to cancel our three remaining Madden Classic qualifier events while we run a comprehensive review of safety protocols for competitors and spectators. We will work with our partners and our internal teams to establish a consistent level of security at all of our competitive gaming events.”

Las Vegas has positioned itself to become one of the esports hubs in the U.S., with venues opening throughout the valley and major esports competitions scheduled to be staged here. Two of the larger esports arenas in the country call Las Vegas home — downtown’s Millennial Esports Arena, and Esports Arena inside the Luxor on the Strip.

Alex Igelman, CEO of Millennial Esports Arena, said his organization has always taken the safety of its guests seriously, using a mix of private security and law enforcement for past events.

“We have security at all of our major events,” Igelman said. “We have done bag checks previously, but we have never used metal-detecting wands. We have CCTV and control the patron’s ingress and egress. For larger events, we have had Metro involved. Neonopolis also has its own private security and nearby, the Fremont Street Experience has security as well.”

Igelman said they are evaluating all security and admissions procedures because “the safety and security of our guests is, as I have said, the most critical aspect of our business.” Officials from Esports Arena echoed that message.

“We are saddened by the tragedy that took place in Jacksonville on Sunday,” Allied Esports, which owns Esports Arena, said in a statement. “Security at Esports Arena Las Vegas will always be our top priority and we continue to work with Luxor and MGM Resorts to ensure a safe environment.”

For past events, Millennial Esports has seen up to 1,000 people attend an event, with no major incidents occurring.

“Aside from the typical behavior you would expect with a crowd of this size—remember this is the sport of competitive video gaming—I can say we have never had any real incidents,” Igelman said.

Eli Clayton, who was killed in the shooting, participated last year in a Madden qualifier event at Millennial Esports. Many on the staff at Millennial Esports Arena were friendly with Clayton, who is known by his gamer tag “TrueBoy.”

“This incident in Jacksonville was an extremely tragic and sad event; the Madden community is a very tight and solid community,” Igelman said. “Our staff got to know many of those in the community well since we have hosted Madden events previously. As you can imagine, the past few days have been extremely difficult for our staff but nothing like the pain that those who have suffered directly are feeling as a result of this senseless act.”