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America has its first exclusively esports-focused law firm now. What's esports, you ask? "Electronic sports," or professional, competitive video gaming. And if competitive video gaming sounds strange, well, it may be. But esports is also a major industry, with organized tournaments and millions of fans across the globe -- and the potential to generate billions in revenue in the near future, according to some estimates.
Esports players, teams, and businesses now have a firm dedicated especially to them, following the founding of the Electronic Sports & Gaming Law by Seattle-based attorney Bryce Blum last week.
A Niche Market With a Niche Law Firm
Blum's esports law career has an interesting backstory. (Disclosure: Blum and I attended the George Washington University Law School together.) He began to build a name for himself as a commentator on Reddit, the online message board site, according to ESPN. From there he became an ESPN contributor and began representing esports teams and on-air talent.
Blum says his goal is "to continue creating legal solutions for a constantly evolving set of challenges throughout the esports space." And the esports space is growing quickly, with major events attracting 40,000 live viewers and millions of internet viewers, according to Deloitte, leading some to claim that the industry is "bigger than basketball."
Take, for example, the International 2016. That's a tournament in which 16 teams battle it out in the video game Dota 2. There's a prize pool of over $20 million; the final match had over 5 million people watching online.
"These Are My People"
"Esports is the largest phenomenon that no one has ever heard of," Blum told the Seattle Times in 2015, after he became in-house counsel for an esports betting company. "But when I tell people I do esports law, they are less likely to look at me strangely than they did a year ago."
Blum isn't just jumping on a promising trend, either. According to the same Times article, he's a life-long gamer, whose earliest memories involve playing Nintendo. "These are my people," Blum says of esports fans. "And my people are growing every year."