Philippines Recognizes eSports as an Official SportOctober 23, 2017 11:55 am
The eSports industry continues to boom, with latest forecasts predicting its value to be worth around $1.5 billion by the year 2020. In the meantime, more and more countries are embracing the industry, including the Philippines, whose Gaming and Amusements Board (GAB) recently recognized the industry as a legitimate sports, like football or boxing.
In fact, recognition was already granted back in July of this year, although the news was only recently made public, much to the delight of the country’s legion of professional gamers. The development was not all together unexpected, though, as the Philippines has become somewhat of a centre for eSports competitions of late, with the country having held two major Defense of the Ancients (DotA) tournaments last year.
Nevertheless, Filipino eSport teams TnC Pro Team and Execration, which specialize in DotA 2, were barred from taking part in The International 6 (TI 6) competition held in the USA last year as they were unable to obtain the necessary visas required by athletes to gain admittance to the States.
This led the teams to approach Senator of the Philippines Bam Aquino for help, who was subsequently pleased to oblige. Despite acknowledging eSports as an official sport, Aquino also warned that only a handful of players can actually expect to make it through to the big leagues, explaining:
“On a per capita basis, there are less eSports players that make it big than other athletes in other sports. So, for most people, this should remain to be a form of entertainment more than a calling.”
Anyone looking to apply for an official eSports license must first clear a number of hurdles. These include endorsement by a professional gaming team, paying a small license fee, as well as the Gaming and Amusements Board looking into the applicant’s track record, and a mandatory drug test being carried out.
As the country begins its transformation of the industry, GAB has also said that it would be playing a bigger role in regulating and supervising the sport, while paying particular attention to ensuring games remain fair and free from match-fixing. GAB said that it would do this by recruiting more people with relevant expertise in the area, whilst also counting on support fromeSports stakeholders and associations.
Commenting upon the huge development for the country’s eSports gamers, GAB’s chief legal counsel, Ermar Benitez stated: “The immediate benefit at this point is recognition, not just by the Philippine government but by other governments and the public as well. When players compete abroad, they can proudly say that they are recognized as such by their country.”