Sharma, Israel Comment on Growth of Esports Industry

14 October 2020 American Lawyer News

Partner Jon Israel and Special Advisor Bobby Sharma were quoted in an American Lawyer article, “An $11 Billion Merger, 500 Million Fans: ESports’ Time is Approaching,” about growing interest in the competitive video gaming industry and the litany of legal issues that entails.

Sharma, special advisor to the firm’s Sports & Entertainment Group, said that as more money and exposure start to flow into the industry, legal issues follow. “You have a giant audience that is under-monetized,” he said. “If it isn’t monetized, even with all those fans and participants, it isn’t ‘mainstream’.”

But Israel, co-chair of the firm’s Sports Industry Team, said that is changing.

“The more money that comes in, the more players you will have at various levels,” he said. “What we saw a few years ago were less experienced lawyers grabbing the lion’s share of the work [in esports] from smaller companies. Then the money starts coming in, and people realize they need to take a look at their agreements and the level of sophistication begins to change.”

And while the pandemic has slowed or halted many traditional sports seasons, Israel added, esports were able to recover more quickly once it became clear that large-scale in-person events would not be happening anytime soon.

“COVID-19 certainly slowed things down a little bit, but now you see traditional sports trying to model themselves after esports with regard to more and varied content distribution and behind the scenes access,” he said. “Esports are way ahead of them in this.”

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