The Econtractor? Defining the Esports Employment Relationship

56 American Business Law Journal 391 (2019)

34 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2019

See all articles by John T. Holden

John T. Holden

Oklahoma State University

Thomas Baker

University of Georgia

Date Written: May 15, 2019


Esports is now a multibillion-dollar industry that has quickly become one of the most discussed segments of the entertainment industry. There has been a rush to mention esports alongside other more traditional sports like baseball, basketball, football, and hockey, but the comparison may not be apt. Esports leagues are fundamentally different from traditional sports leagues because the competitive games that make up esports are the intellectual property of the game makers. This unique structure results in individualized relationships between the game makers, esports producers, the teams, and the competitors. This article is among the first to examine the legal status of esports competitors. In doing so, we discuss the employment conditions within esports that make them unique. The industry is poised to face significant labor-related challenges in the near future, so the article also analyzes the labor issues esports competitors and leagues face, and the importance for stakeholders to pay attention to the legal status and working conditions of the competitors.

Keywords: esports, labor law, employment law, joint employer, sports law

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K14, K33, K40, K49, L50, L59, L63, L80, L83, L86, L89, O34

Suggested Citation

Holden, John and Baker, Thomas, The Econtractor? Defining the Esports Employment Relationship (May 15, 2019). 56 American Business Law Journal 391 (2019), Available at SSRN:

John Holden (Contact Author)

Oklahoma State University ( email )

201 Business Building
Stillwater, OK 74078-0555
United States

Thomas Baker

University of Georgia ( email )

4458 Tacoma Trce.
Suwanee, GA GA 30024
United States
3525148113 (Phone)
3525148113 (Fax)

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