The Philippine parliamentarian wants to designate October as the month of sports

Published on: September 5, 2022, 12:00 p.m.

Last updated: September 5, 2022, 12:38 p.m.

Despite the explosive popularity that eSports has seen, it is still a black sheep for some – nothing more than a teenage fad. There is overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and one lawmaker in the Philippines wants to give the activity more recognition.

World Esports Championship
Players and spectators gather for the World Esports Championship. A lawmaker in the Philippines hopes he can find approval for a bill that would designate October as national sports month. (Image: Bullfrag)

Representative Christopher de Venecia fights the stigma surrounding the eSports industry. He states that many do not consider eSports athletes to be legitimate professionals. That’s because they see video games as a vice, a distraction, or a form of gambling.

As a result, de Venecia wrote a new bill, House Bill 01285, accordingly Philstar. The working title is An act declaring the month of October as “National Sports Month,” and its purpose is to do what the title suggests.

Give more recognition to Esports

de Venecia said that Philippine eSports teams are struggling to participate in international tournaments. On many occasions, players face rejection of travel documents and visas. This is because they are not recognized as legitimate representatives of the Philippines in eSports.

For example, one of the country’s Bren Esports teams for Valorant had to pull out of a tournament in Berlin, Germany last year. This followed the rejection of a travel request even though the team members had qualified for the tournament.

As a result, industry insiders hope to work with the Department of Foreign Affairs to improve the treatment of eSports athletes when competing in international tournaments. In addition, they also plan to meet with the Department of Labor and Employment to develop a more effective counterattack that protects team owners and the players themselves.

For the legislator, eSports is a legitimate sport as well as a creative industry. He compares it to the sport of dance, competitive ballroom dancing. It is both a sport and a performing art that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizes as a sport.

Although the sport of dance has not yet appeared in any Olympic competition, its recognition by the IOC is a significant first step. For years, eSports players and supporters have also been fighting to have the competitions included in the Olympics.

World Esports Day, but better

There is already a World Esports Day, celebrated on October 23rd. However, instead of just one day, de Venecia wants the entire month to be about the ecosystem.

If the legislation moves forward, it would make it easier for various government entities, such as the Philippine Intelligence Agency and the National Sports Academy, to collaborate with the private sector. Among the goals would be to create and share information related to eSports events and competitions. They would also focus on activity education.

The Philippines has its own eSports governing body, the Philippine Esports Organization. It would take a leading role in facilitating collaboration while continuing to shape the industry.

eSports betting is still catching up

Currently, according to the National Law Review, only 13 US states have specifically taken action on eSports betting. All but one, Nevada, did so following the US Supreme Court’s 2018 strike down of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA).

There is still a long way to go, and some states have even gone to great lengths to block legal sports betting in eSports. However, it is impossible to ignore the money that the industry can bring in.

Sports betting analysts predict the industry will be worth up to $2 billion globally this year. In eight years, however, that could reach $12.5 billion, according to Research and Markets.

This would reflect a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.9%. Additionally, sponsorships could see a CAGR of 40% and media rights could add 23%. Globally, all markets will see significant growth.

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