eSports Competitions Legislation Approved in Maryland

On April 30, 2019, Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland approved House Bill 48 titled “eSports Act.”[1] The eSports Act defines “eSports Competition” as a competition involving video games, including first-person shooters, real-time strategy games, and multi-player online battle arenas in which:

(1) players compete against each other; and

(2) the dominant element determining the results is the relative skill of the players.

Moreover, the Act allows the competition’s sponsor to award prize money or merchandise to winners of the competition. The eSports Act shall take effect October 1, 2019.

While the Act does not explicitly state that payment of entry fees is permissible in such competitions, a prior version of the bill included the following limitation, which was removed in the final version:

(B)(2) A PERSON, INCLUDING A PARTICIPANT IN OR OBSERVER OF AN ESPORTS COMPETITION, MAY NOT BET, WAGER, OR GAMBLE ON THE RESULT OF THE ESPORTS COMPETITION.[2]

Removal of this limitation appears to recognize the implied legality of the payment of entry fees by participants but regulations, which can be adopted by the Comptroller, will hopefully clarify this issue.

Should you have questions regarding this legislation, please contact authors Karl Rutledge at krutledge@lrrc.com, Glenn Light at glight@lrrc.com, or Mary Tran at mtran@lrrc.com.


[1] A copy of the bill is available at: https://legiscan.com/MD/text/HB48/id/2016582/Maryland-2019-HB48-Chaptered.pdf

[2] Introduced version of the bill available at: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2019RS/bills/hb/hb0048f.pdf