The esports market in Japan is booming. The competitive video game industry reached $60.7 million in 2020, was expected to hit $78.8 million in 2021 (we’re still waiting on the official numbers), and is projected to hit $116 million in 2022. Tournaments are seeing prize pools exceeding $900,000, with the Shadowverse World Grand Prix 2021 recording the highest prize money in the tournament’s three-year history at $2.5 million with the winner taking home $1.3 million.
In 2018, when the tournament started, the total prize money was $1.3 million, and the first-place prize was $1 million. The consistent growth of the tournament is expected to continue. Season 1 of the PUBG Mobile Japan League, a tournament held from February 2021 to October 2021, offered a total prize pool of $2.7 million and the first-place prize of $909,000. This prize pool represented the highest amount of total prize money in all of Japan at the time.
The rise of esports in Japan is partly attributed to the fact that certain legal problems that previously prevented growth, including criminal law issues, are being addressed and revised. Moreover, the country is attempting to establish esports as a profession. A system is currently being put in place to hold tournaments while addressing other various legal issues.
Sports (or esports) betting is not legal in Japan. However, the country has begun to discuss legalizing it. If sports betting is approved, discussions on the legalization of esports betting may soon follow. The talks of legalizing sports betting include the possible expansion of Sports Promotion Votes. However, the operation of sports betting by private platforms is being evaluated as a different system. Given declining revenues from spectator sports due to COVID-19, it is hoped that new systems will be installed to contribute to the promotion of sports and esports, with esports betting serving as a driver of these interests.
(All information was provided by The National Law Review)