Lately, online gaming has been dominating the discussion across several sectors of the economy, as it has evolved from a relatively small market a couple of decades ago to a booming industry that encompasses millions of players worldwide. Online casinos have also expanded their reach by appealing not only to traditional gamblers looking to play poker or roulette online, but also to a wide range of seasoned and amateur players alike with simpler but equally exciting games like online slots. As regulators rush to get ahead of developments, will lawyers discover that it is time to tap into these rising markets like other professionals have?
The Online Gambling Industry
It certainly looks like there is a lot of potential into these sectors still. Brick and mortar casinos have been around for ages, but their online counterparts are a relatively more recent addition to the game. They have quickly drawn people in thanks to the convenience they offer: it is simply easier to gamble from the comfort of your home, any time you want, while the variety of games available is extremely wide. Anything from keno and baccarat to classics like blackjack, craps or dice are available to online gamblers.
There are many online casinos operating in the UK and there is a regulatory framework that they need to comply with. Its complexity, along with the many online providers active in the field, offers a prime opportunity for lawyers who want to specialise in gambling law. When it comes to how the authorities regulate the field, the UK might have a thing or two to learn from other jurisdictions around the globe that also share some elements of our legal culture. For example, according to the legal status of online gambling in Canada, the provincial governments are authorised to operate computer-based gambling – which has led to many of them launching their own online casinos and poker websites. This is an interesting approach that could be discussed in the UK context, too – and would also lead to an increased need for legal expertise.
eSports as a Rising Market for Lawyers
eSports is also a growing market that is in dire need of specialised legal counsels. US firms have begun setting up dedicated eSports practices, responding to the need for lawyers in the industry. Legal issues within eSports gaming, where players compete with each other in specific video games to claim hefty prizes, range from labour law issues to intellectual property and contracts. In 2018 alone, the eSports market is set to reach more than $900 million in profit, while 77% of this revenue will come from advertising, media rights, sponsorships and similar fields, where having a lawyer by your side is fundamental.
Since eSports are followed by millions of people across the globe – just look at the numbers behind Twitch, the most popular online gaming streaming service – the market is certainly not going anywhere any time soon. In fact, gambling issues might arise within eSports, too. While competitive gaming is primarily skill-based, there is a growing market for eSports betting that is doing amazingly well lately. This means that combining the two fields might not be so far into the future as we might think.
In a world where the internet and new technologies dominate, so must lawyers adapt and find new, challenging markets that need their legal expertise.