We consider whether a skill-based online multiplayer game with some entry fees to a tournament and prizes for winner and sub-winners (consists of entry fees) is in US and EU law classified as a gambling/hazard game.

The game is not based on random (e.g. like bingo) and it is not a card game (like poker). The game's meaning is to be as skill-based as possible.

Of course, it depends on the application of legislation in each country, however, we would like to find a uniformly applicable model or any clear regulations that could be applied.

Most regulations seem to be very vague by definition and we fear of possible sanctions.

Is available any global resource that describes / monitors this problem across the world (or in US and EU at least)?

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    There is no uniformly applicable model. Every jurisdiction has its own regulations. If you want better advice than that, either narrow the question or ask a lawyer qualified and certified for all those you might practically care about. – Nij Jan 16 '20 at 11:13
  • We already consult the problem with layers, however we do not have any unequivocal answer. If there was a resource that solves this problem in its complexity, it would help us a lot. No hard feelings. – miloshavlicek Jan 16 '20 at 11:24
  • Relate question (not same): law.stackexchange.com/questions/5729/… – miloshavlicek Jan 16 '20 at 11:36
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    You might want to edit your question and elaborate what regulations you perceive as very vague. I don't doubt that there is plenty of ambiguous legislation, but detailing for us some instances of vagueness could help us clarify a misunderstanding you might have about those statutes (whether from US law or EU law). Have you considered this answer? That answer points to jurisdictions where involvement of skill rules out a finding of gambling. – Iñaki Viggers Jan 16 '20 at 13:13

In the U.S. this will be dependant on State Gambling Laws, but typically it would only be illegal if the money was taken for a private Lottery (legally speaking, only the government is permitted to run lotteries, and the specific nature of a lottery is a game where a prize of monetary value is awarded to a participant by a mechanism of random chance). Typically, skill based games are not Lotteries as the prize is determined by a non-random selection based on some metric of judgement (skills, though subjectively judged contests, like a Beauty Pageant or Body Builder competition can occur.).

E-sports tournaments are typically Skill based rather than random chance, and thus permitted. Typically, the recent problem with many E-Sports is that the games themselves use Lockboxes as a form of micro-transactions to fund the game's development and sustainable and the mechanics of Lockboxes are sufficiently random that it might qualify as a lottery if the possible prizes could be considered items of value.

  • What about randomisation within the skill-based gameplay (e.g. randomly drawing cards from a deck)? Poker isn’t a lottery, but it’s still usually regulated, right? – nick012000 Jan 16 '20 at 23:30
  • Poker is a non-banked card game, which means all participants are playing against each other, not "The House". If there is a set buy in to the tournament and the monetary prize is awareded to the best in the tournament, not the in game betting mechanic, it tends to defeat the lottery definition. For example, you charge all players $5 to take part in a tournament. The top three players are awarded cash prizes based on points allotted to the chips in lieu of a dollar amount, then it's a game of skill (the ante to the Pot is worthless outside of the game). – hszmv Jan 17 '20 at 14:07

Gambling requires a wager

something (such as a sum of money) risked on an uncertain event

An entry fee paid to participate in an event is not a wager even if the event offers prizes.

Note that a wager on the outcome of the event or matches within an event by non-participants is gambling. And side bets by participants are usually strictly prohibited because of the risk of cheating.

For example, consider horse racing (or any other sport); the participants (owners/trainers/jockeys/horses) pay an entry feat to compete for the prize money - this isn’t gambling. Others can bet on the outcome- this is gambling.

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    I feel this answer is not accurate; compare gambling on sports, which are generally viewed on as games of skill, rather than chance. – sharur Jan 16 '20 at 23:27
  • @sharur clarified – Dale M Jan 17 '20 at 0:53

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