E-sports – decathlon or roulette?

Thousands of spectators, fan merchandise, two teams, certain favorites, and possible surprises – these keywords characterize sports competitions.

Will the situation change if the arena is a computer game hall instead of an athletics stadium and instead of a spear in the athlete’s hand there is a computer mouse?

E-sports is characterized by playing computer games in competitions which watched by fans or broadcasted on the Internet or television. On the world stage, e-sport has been recognized as a sport: in 2013, Danny “Shiphtur” Le, a Canadian League of Legend player, received a United States visa, which is only available to internationally recognized athletes.

The International Olympic Committee has also taken the view that e-sport can be seen as a sport, as players train and prepare for competitions with the same intensity as athletes do. However, the green light for becoming an Olympic sport has not yet been given.

In the Estonian context, however, e-sport has significantly more practical issues than being part of the agenda for the future Olympic Games. The problem is that legislator has not stated unequivocally whether e-sport is considered sport or gambling?

According to the legislator, gambling is a game in which participation is conditional on making a bet, the player has a chance of winning and the outcome of the game is partly or fully determined by an activity based on chance or depends on the occurrence of a previously unknown event.

When can an event in e-sports be considered a coincidence and when is it a sporting effort? In the computer game industry, this is defined by a four-letter abbreviation pRNG (Pseudo Random Number Generator). It is an algorithm that determines the randomness or absence of game elements.

pRNG algorithms are present in some form in all computer games (including League of Legends, DoTa 2, Counterstrike: Global Offensive or Hearthstone), the question is whether it determines the outcome of the game or whether it is a technical nuance that does not affect the outcome of the game. There is no answer to this in smartbooks, and every e-sports expert has an opinion on it.

If e-sports were to be considered gambling, the question would arise as to who can be e-athletes. The best e-athletes should not enter the casino or place bets online today – Finnish Joona “Serral” Sotala, who recently became the Starcraft 2 World Champion, is 20 years old, while the best Estonian Robin “Ropz” Kool is 18 years old. In addition to them, many others who are top in the field would be left out.

The above issues would be resolved by treating e-sport as a regular sporting event. Namely, sports competitions are not considered to be games of chance, regardless of whether you can place a bet, win and the result is determined by chance.

Therefore, for example, two groups of friends who are playing football and have each contributed 5 euros into the prize fund, do not have to apply for a gambling license.

Considering the fact that e-sports is an increasingly growing industry and the Estonian economic environment needs a strong position in international competition, it would be reasonable to treat e-sports tournaments in Estonia as a sports competition and not as gambling.

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