Video game

It is human nature to call “magic” to what will be the science of tomorrow. If we examine the history and development of humanity, we can conclude that technology is the instrument that shrinks the world. Inventions like automobiles, trains, planes and spacecrafts shorten the distances between people and places. In essence, turning our round earth into a flat one.

The telecommunication sector, in contrast to the transportation sector, doesn’t need to physically move us from one place to another. Inventions like the telephone, cellphone, fax machine and the internet, allow us to communicate and build personal and business relationships with others around the world. The telecommunication sector and cyberspace are creating new ways to conduct business, build education models and of course, engage in sports.

Electronic sports, or commonly called E-Sports, are a multi-billion dollar industry around the world and a real instrument for economic development. Video games were transformed because of its symbiotic relationship with the internet. The web has allowed thousands of players to compete in leagues or teams for money by playing popular games such as Fortnite, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, League of Legends and Madden NFL.

Some of these events are celebrated live at big stadiums and multiple venues which bring together thousands of spectators to one city. These events promote the hospitality and tourism industry and result in an economic impact of millions of dollars. On occasion, some of these events are celebrated online in real time exposing viewers to various promotions and ads about the place where the event takes place.

As if that weren’t enough, the E-sports industry generates millions of dollars in event tickets and earnings for franchise and game producers while the winners of the competitions receive up to seven-figure prizes. Online game gambling is on the road to becoming an $8 billion industry in 2019. As far as E-sport gambling goes, some reports have stated that it could become a $16 billion industry in the coming years.

According to a report from Newzoo, a market analytical company, 380 million people around the world watched E-Sports in 2018. In 2017, the League of Legends World Championship drew more than 80 million viewers and companies like ESPN and Disney XD announced a multiyear deal to broadcast these events. It is estimated that in 2018, E-Sport revenues reached $906 million worldwide; this year it is expected to generate revenues of $1 billion.

Puerto Rico cannot remain in inertia in front of this worldwide economic and technological transformation. The Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, introduced aggressive legislation to attract visitors interested in sports gambling and E-Sports. According to a study commissioned by the Government of Puerto Rico, sports betting, physically and online, can generate between $44 and $62 million annually. The primary goal of the legislation is to make Puerto Rico an attractive destination for the millions of people interested in these events because states and territories are now allowed to promote this kind of economic activity as a result of the recent United States Supreme Court Case, Murphy v. NCAA, which struck down a federal law that had the purpose of stopping the spread of sports betting.

New inventions and rapid developments are known to generate skeptic resistance. However, with all of this data on hand, and considering Puerto Rico’s current fiscal and economic challenges, we cannot waste the opportunity to become part of the worldwide E-sport industry.

Former Public Affairs Secretary of La Fortaleza and Executive Director of Puerto Rico Ports Authority

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