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Japanese eSports attempt to bypass strict gambling laws in 2018, potentially setting up the country to reach new levels of gaming success

Both Street Fighter 5 and Tekken 7 reportedly among first titles to receive special eSports licenses

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • December 13, 2017 at 5 p.m. PST • Comments: 10

Especially in the fighting game genre, Japan is revered as one of the absolute strongest regions for competitive video game play. Unfortunately for many Japanese players, their home country has a ton of strict gambling laws that mute the potential for eSports in the region.

2018 may see a major change in this, as Japanese Esports Association (JeSPA) is looking into something of a loophole that would allow players to locally participate in events similar to the Dota 2 finals held in Seattle earlier this year.

Yuji Nakamura, a Bloomberg tech reporter in Tokyo, has tweeted out the first information we've heard on this matter, explaining that Japan will be issuing professional eSports licenses as a means of bypassing these laws.

"One unintended obstacle is a quirk of Japanese legal language that has lumped video games together with gambling ever since yakuza gangs turned to video poker in the 1980s as a money-maker," mentions Nakamura.

Considering the household fighting game players that hail from Japan (CYG|Daigo, FOX|Tokido, GRPT|Fuudo to name a very few) it's a bit surprising to realize that their nation's eSports scene is being stifled in this way.

The implications here are pretty massive however, as removing this hurdle from Japanese gaming could mean all new highs from the already impressive scene. Here's Nakamura's tweet about the new licenses:

Click images for animated versions

The eSports scene is growing in big ways, and is predicted to be a 5 billion dollar business by the year 2020.

At this point, the JeSPA document lists Winning Eleven 2018, Street Fighter 5, Tekken 7, Puzzle & Dragons and Monster Strike as the game titles that will receive these licenses to begin with.

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