By two decrees adopted on 9 May 2017, France is materializing its regulatory framework applicable to esports competitions and esports labor contracts. France officially recognized esports as a national sport in 2016 but the concrete rules of application were since then expected. These two new decrees are an important milestone in the creation of a French esports regulatory framework.

According to a recent study, esports revenues in Europe in 2016 were evaluated at 301 million dollars and are expected to reach nearly 346 million dollars by 2018. According to the same study, France is now the third largest esports EU market, with a total amount of 22.5 million dollars of esports revenues in 2016. The potential economic impacts of esports is clearly taken into account by the French government, officially recognizing esports as a national sport in France with the French Digital Republic Law in 2016.

On 9 May 2016, two national decrees were adopted to further substantiate the recognition of esports in France.

New rules for esports competitions

The First Decree aims at framing the rules applicable for the organization of official esports competitions. Several elements must be communicated to French authorities at least 30 days before the organization of a competition. In particular this includes the type of game that will be played, the expected number of participants, expected fees supported by participants and an estimate of total costs, revenues and prizes of the competition. The First Decree also further detail the rules allowing the participation of minors in esports competitions.

This new legal framework was highly anticipated as the current French gambling laws forbids the organization of any game or competition which gives rise to the hope of a gain and for which a financial sacrifice is required from participants. By detailing the conditions of the organization of esports competitions, the esports industry now has a clear guidelines to avoid falling foul of any prohibitions in the French gambling laws.

New rules for esports players labor contracts

The purpose of the Second Decree is to detail the conditions for accreditation to hire esports players. The creation of an esports labour contract was already provided by the Digital Republic Law in 2016 but was expressly reserved to accredited companies or associations.

In order to hire esports players on a professional basis, teams and leagues now need to be accredited by the French Minister responsible for the digital industry. The accreditation request needs to include several pieces of information including, notably, the conditions of training and mental/physical supervision of players and the description of the means used to minimize risks posed by the profession.

The Decree also lists the conditions under which an esports player's contract can have a duration of less than 12 months. The Digital Republic Bill fixed a minimum of 12 months for esports players' contracts but allowed limited exceptions that were intended to be specified by decree, these conditions have been added to the Second Decree.

With these two new decrees, France is creating flexible rules, which derogate from French general labor and gambling law. In doing so, France is hoping to a create a friendly regulatory framework to facilitate the stable implementation and expansion of the esports industry in France.