During the first few months of the COVID-19 lockdown, with virtually all major sporting events cancelled, sports betting and gambling companies turned their eyes toward the esports universe in search of a solution. While initially large scale esports events were also cancelled, professional gaming competitions soon began taking place online. As one of the only professional “sports” competitions being broadcasted with any consistency, esports competitions filled the gap for many sportsbook operators.
Continue Reading The Rise of Esports Betting

Iowa enacted a sports betting law last May. Section 99E addressed fantasy sports contests and Section 99F addressed sports betting.

Under Section 99E: a “Fantasy sports contest” includes any fantasy or simulated game or contest …” and 99E.2 states: “The system of entering an internet fantasy sports contest as provided by this chapter is legal when conducted by a licensed internet fantasy sports contest service provider as provided in this chapter.”
Continue Reading Is Esports Betting Sports Betting in Iowa?

Musicians and gamers are no strangers to each other; the two industries have been capitalizing on the crossover of their respective fan bases for nearly a decade. Although these collaborative efforts are not news, the utility of virtual and remote fan engagement has been re-contextualized in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic. As the average musician derives the overwhelming majority of their revenue from live performances, technologies that can simulate these experiences have taken on a new importance virtually overnight.
Continue Reading The Esports and Gaming Industries Offer Vital Tools to Musicians in the Wake of COVID-19

There has been a wave of celebrity lawsuits against game companies over in-game dance moves allegedly made famous by the celebrity. A number of legal theories have been tried, including trademark, copyright, right of publicity, misappropriation of likeness, etc. Nearly all of these claims have failed. A recent decision from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted a motion to dismiss on seven of eight counts brought. The sole surviving count relates to a false endorsement claim under the Lanham Act. Leo P made two claims under the Lanham Act, the second being for false designation of origin was dismissed by the court.
Continue Reading Recent Case Law May Open New Celebrity Dance Suits Against Game Publishers

Earlier this month, a set of gaming industry representatives agreed upon and released a set of unifying esports principles. These representatives include the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), as well as associations from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the UK, and Europe. These “Principles of Esports Engagement” were developed in a collaborative effort and form a set of values applicable in all aspects of the global esports environment.
Continue Reading Gaming Industry Associations Agree on Universal Esports Principles

As real-world celebrities continue to expand the reach of their persona into the digital realm, the potential benefit for advertisers, game developers and esports event promoters is exceedingly high. But with increased opportunity comes increased risk.

A New York Supreme Court recently addressed this risk when it construed the State’s right of publicity statute[1] in a dispute over an NBA 2K18 video game avatar. In Champion v. Take Two Interactive Software, Inc., celebrity basketball entertainer Phillip “Hot Sauce” Champion sued the video game developer, alleging violation of his right to privacy for Take-Two’s use of his name and likeness. The Court ultimately dismissed the lawsuit, but not before it provided a helpful discussion of New York’s publicity statute and its modern application to the esports industry.
Continue Reading Celebrity Entertainer Sues Over Video Game Avatar

*This article was originally published in Law360 on June 8, 2019.

Electronic sports, known in the industry as “esports,” has seen remarkable growth in the last decade. The term “esports” refers to the growing world of competitive, organized video gaming, where professional video gamers play on a variety of different video game platforms and video games (“esports titles”) in heavily attended and publicized competitions and tournaments. These competitions are watched by millions of fans across the globe on TV or online, and by others who attend live esports events. Expert projections have shown that this year will be especially significant, with the sport reaching revenues of $1.1 billion in 2019, or year-on-year growth of +26.7%. With a global audience growing to over 453.8 million worldwide in 2019, it is unsurprising that several companies are trying to break into this emerging market. In fact, reports have projected that sponsorship in esports will generate $456.7 million this year alone.

As new companies and individuals attempt to enter this space, it is important to consider several labor and employment consequences. While many of these recurring problems are not exclusive to esports, the unique characteristics of esports highlight the importance of considering these issues before or when employers get into the esports space.
Continue Reading 10 Labor and Employment Considerations in Esports*

In a lawsuit filed yesterday against esports entertainment organization, FaZe Clan, Turner Tenney (“Tfue”), a twenty-one year old professional gamer and streamer alleges that the exploitation of young, unsophisticated content creators (streamers) has become standard in the esports industry, and that he is a victim.

Tenney claims that the “gamer agreement” he signed with FaZe Clan when he was twenty years old is illegal for multiple reasons – he alleges that it is “grossly oppressive, onerous, and one-sided,” because it entitles FaZe Clan to a finder’s fee of up to eighty percent (80%) of the revenue paid by third-parties for Tenney’s services and that it contains anticompetitive provisions that unlawfully restrain his ability to make deals that are not sourced by FaZe Clan. Tenney also argues that FaZe Clan is acting as his agent and has a fiduciary duty to him, which he alleges FaZe Clan breached when it rejected a sponsorship offer for Tenney because of a conflict of interest.
Continue Reading Tfue Lawsuit Sparks Scrutiny of Gamer Agreements and Esports Agency Activity