Does eSport equal Gambling?

According to the Russian Sports Ministry’s Regulations “On the recognition and inclusion of sports, sports disciplines in the All-Russian Register of Sports", computer sport (e-sports) is recognized as sport discipline and included in the Register under the numeric code 1240002411М.

The All-Russian Register of Sports differentiates five areas (types) in e-sports: the battle arena, competitive puzzles, real-time strategy, technical simulator and sports simulator.

Since there is no specific legislative act or by-law which regulates computer sports, then the Federal Law "On Physical Culture and Sports in the Russian Federation" from 04.12.2007 N329 is the main legislative source which governs computer sports. Accordingly, tax, labor, financial, commercial and other legislation shall be subject to this law in the context of e-sports.

Age restrictions for participation

In France and other countries where French eSports regulations apply, the age of participants in eSports tournaments with monetary awards shall be no less than 12 years.

In Russia, based on the provisions of Art. 28 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, children under 14 years old without the consent of parents / legal guardians shall not take part in e-sports tournaments involving financial contributions, since they do not possess required legal capacity. If such contributions are too significant, then minors between the age of 14 and 18 cannot participate in such tournaments as well without consent of their parents / legal guardians.

ESports Definition

Article 2 of the above-mentioned Russian Federal Sports Law defines computer sport as “the sphere of socio-cultural activity, as a combination of various kinds of sports that have developed in the form of competitions and social practice of training and preparing to these kinds of sports by people.” Thus, when we refer to e-sports, we are actually referring to it as a sports discipline. Therefore, e-sports as a sports discipline, is fully consistent with the definition of a sport contained in the same Article 2.

The rules of e-sports have been adopted relatively recently and approved by the order of the Ministry of Sports of Russia dated 09.10.2017 No. 881. These rules establish the technical requirements for computer sports equipment.

Gambling

According to the definition of a gambling (Article 4 of the Federal Law "On state regulation of the organization and conduct of gambling and on making some amendments to the legislative acts of the Russian Federation"), gambling game is a risk-based (game of luck) betting agreement executed by two or more parties, or executed with an organizer of such betting agreement (game of luck), according to the rules established by the organizer.

Main Characteristics of Gambling Game:

• risk-based agreement;

• agreement is executed through public offer;

• payment for the bet;

• organizer acts as a guarantor of the agreement;

• rules established by the organizer.

Criminal regulation of gambling

The criminal law defines gambling narrowly: “organizing and conducting gambling” (Article 171.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation)

Gambling in criminal context cannot be related to any sort of agreement. A simple betting agreement falls shortly from criminal conduct. However, the organization and control of a betting game (game of luck) that falls into gambling definition according to the above-mentioned Federal Law from December 29, 1996 N 244, which is a game of luck based on a betting agreement, is prosecuted under the criminal legislation in Russia.

Liability can be established for the totality of crimes regulated by Art. 171.2 and Art. 150 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, in case of involvement of a minor in the implementation of illegal activities.

Is eSports a gamble?

Esports competitions are not gambling games. These games are non-gambling games similarly to any other traditional sport games are, for instance, football (soccer), since there is no game of luck or play of chance, but a competition in specific set of skills. No one prevents a footballer to earn a living with his/her work through playing the game of football. According to this principle, no one can prohibit an e-athlete to financially benefit from his/her sporting skills in eSports.

What is the difference to gambling?

Athletes and eSportsmen earn their living by utilizing their skills in a specific kind of sport. Contrary to that, in gambling, the earnings are achieved through a windfall or as some say “luck” or “fortune”.

Betting on match results is a totally different ball game. In traditional sports and in e-sports, this equates to gambling.

Conclusion

We cannot equalize computer games with gambling. By analogy with football, which does not amount to gambling, eSports is primarily related to mastering a certain skill at a higher level.

The International Olympic Committee has already developed a set of recommendations for cooperation between the Olympic movement, gaming communities and e-sports. And in some countries, for example, in South Korea, e-sports is categorized as Olympic sport of a second category.

Translation editor: Dmitry Morozov

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