Is Esports Law a Thing Yet?

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By George Khoury, Esq. on April 01, 2019 3:23 PM

With the amazing growth of the esports industry, some lawyers and law students might be wondering whether esports law is a thing yet.

If you're wondering just what an esport is, then prepare to be surprised: esports are basically competitive video games that garner the same sort of audience and fans as real sports. Yes, people are watching other people play video games (both in person, but mostly online), and the people playing the games are making money, sometimes a lot of money, doing it.

And that means that there is definitely legal work available for those lawyers savvy enough to get it. Below you can read about three of the bigger legal issues esports lawyers need to be ready to deal with.

Contract Law

For the most part, when representing an esports brand, platform, organizer, or even an esports professional (i.e. a professional gamer), the most important legal matters are likely to involve contracts.

While the esports industry may put up big cash prizes for event winners, there are quite a few moving parts that go into these events, including sponsorships, endorsement deals, licensing, not to mention the legal issues inherent in running any event. Additionally, if participants are paid to attend, or win, there are potential tax issues to account for, as well as potentially immigration law issues for non-U.S. citizen participants or for non U.S. events.

Contest and Gaming Law

In addition to the typical contract issues, there can also be potential legal issues with esports events and contests that have cash prizes, with the big one being gambling laws. In addition to state law concerns over whether participation in events themselves are considered just gaming or gambling, there is an emerging esports betting industry growing right along with esports generally.

Intellectual Property

As individuals and businesses in the industry grow, there are certainly intellectual property concerns, such as likeness rights, copyrights, licensing and more. Fortunately, unless you're looking to represent game developers, being a licensed patent attorney likely matters less than understanding the appropriate legal concerns common in the industry.

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