Named “The Digital Republic Bill”, the proposed legislation aims to disassociate eSports events from gambling events. The bill will also expand the definition of athletes to include players, allowing eSports professionals to partake and contribute to government pensions and other social nets.
Under French laws, eSports events are currently classified as gambling events — an illegal activity under France’s legal framework. Because of this, France is unappealing for tournament organizers who must pass through many bureaucratic hoops in order to put up high-profile gaming events in the country.
The proposed bill comes at the heels of the French government’s repeated refusal to recognize eSports as sporting events. Last December, the French Ministry of Sport refused to consider professional gaming as sports, but nonetheless praised the growth of the industry.
If passed, the bill will disassociate eSports with illegal gambling and also recognize the rights of organizations and players.
The bill will use a partnership-based approach to help government interface with organizers, gamers and public institutions with the goal of structuring the the eSports industry in France.
Furthermore, eSports players will be able to contribute their taxes towards pensions plans as they will also be recognized as athletes, with certain concessions given the specifics of their profession.
By fixing these issues, the French government looks to attract game developers and tournament organizers to bring their businesss into France. According to a report by Newzoo, the eSports audience is growing by double-digit rates year-over-year, thanks mostly to big ticket events played on stadiums. Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Poland have attracted multiple tournaments from Riot Games over the past few years.
The United States have also officially recognized eSports players as professional athletes in a bill that was passed in 2013. The P1 athlete’s visa recognizes eSports players who move into the United States to play for eSports organizations inside the country.