Japan's ruling party wants to legalize professional gaming tournaments, joining a groundswell that started last summer amid speculation that video games will become an Olympic medal sport by 2024.
Arcane laws meant to stop illegal gambling have prevented paid video game tournaments in Japan, stunting the domestic market even as esports has become a multibillion-dollar global industry. Over the past few months, negotiations between four esports groups and Japan's consumer protection agency have yielded a workaround to exempt professional gamers from the rules.
Takeo Kawamura, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, said the ruling party might be willing to go further, by amending laws to ensure people's rights to earn a living playing games. The goal, he said, is to remove impediments and make it possible to win Olympic medals someday.