Electronic Sport – legal framework in Poland
The Polish e-sports market is considered one of the most dynamic in Europe, and Polish players and teams have won the biggest tournaments in the world (e.g. in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive).
Electronic Sport in the Polish Sports Act
The Polish legislature has expressly allowed intellectual games to be classified as “sport” in the legal sense. In addition, the explanatory memorandum to the draft amendment to the 2017 Sports Act explicitly states that e-sport also pursues the objectives of “sport” by enabling intellectual development, strengthening social relations, promoting the socialisation of participants and strengthening self-confidence. In the Polish legal system, e-sport is therefore a sport in the legal sense and it applies to both online and offline tournaments (LAN tournaments).
The classification of e-sport as a “sport” allows e-sport organizations to take advantage of the benefits of traditional sport. One example is the possibility of obtaining funding, grants, and sports scholarships awarded by local authorities. Another example is the exemption from profit tax for e-players.
However, there is currently no legal possibility in Poland to set up an e-sport association, as this would require a decree of the Minister of Sport, which has not yet been adopted. As a result, it is currently not possible to form a national e-sport team.
Electronic Sports and the Law on Gambling and Betting
E-sports games do not constitute gambling within the meaning of the Polish Gambling Act. Lootboxing, a kind of mini-game that is usually implemented by developers within a particular main game, is causing particular interpretation problems. Typically, chests are opened that contain random rewards of a virtual nature (e.g. a virtual sword). The Polish authorities have said that despite the presence of an element of luck, it is not a game of chance, since the items won are virtual.
E-sports games, on the other hand, may be the subject of betting within the meaning of the Gambling Act, which then applies. An interesting solution is the special regulation for the use of the results of e-sports tournaments by bookmakers (Article 31 (2) of the Gambling Act). According to this provision, bookmakers should pay fees to the organizers of competitions for the results transmitted.
E-Sports and Contracts
Due to the fact that only a few legal acts regulate e-sport activity in Poland, contracts between the participants in the e-sport ecosystem play an especially important role: publishers, players/teams, streamers/influencers, e-sports organizations, e-sports competition organizers (e.g. leagues), broadcasters (streaming, linear transmission). as well as sponsors and advertising.