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Non-profit status in eSports: “Not even the first step has been taken”

Even with the current coalition, the issue of non-profit status in eSports is stagnating. In an interview with eSport, Dr. Oliver Daum explains where the problems lie and what the first step should be

It has been on the political agenda for six years. However, there has still been no vote on whether eSports should be recognized as a non-profit organization. The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) has given the issue new impetus. However, not in the direction desired by many industry representatives and gamers.

This is because the BMFSFJ takes a critical view of some eSports titles, mainly due to loot boxes and the realistic depiction of killing. For lawyer Dr. Oliver Daum, this statement “once again lumps gaming and eSports together, because in eSports there are – strictly speaking – no loot boxes”. Nonetheless, the objections reveal both the core aspect of the question of non-profit status and the status of the process.

Once illustrated figuratively: The policy is still at the starting line, “not even the first step has been taken”. First and foremost, it should be clearly defined “what eSports actually is – especially in distinction to gaming. The fact that this has not yet been done could be one reason why there has not yet been a vote on non-profit status”.

Although this demarcation is not easy to establish, “politicians must solve problems. Too little comes from legislators, although they could do more,” criticizes the lawyer. Attempts have already been made to define eSports – including by Dr. Daum himself. He writes: “eSport is the competition between people using computer programs according to agreed rules. “

Why a definition is important

But why is a definition important at all? We go back to the beginnings. To the question of what non-profit status means. “First and foremost, it means tax relief. This means either a complete exemption from corporation and trade tax or the granting of tax-free allowances. However, donors can also be issued with a donation receipt. They can then deduct this from their taxes,” explains Dr. Daum.

What at first sounds exclusively advantageous turns out to be multi-layered on closer inspection. If an association wants to be a non-profit organization, there are also disadvantages: “The association’s funds and resources may only be used for the purpose specified in the articles of association.” This is where loot boxes come into play, for example. So if a club were to organize a tournament in EA SPORTS FC 24 in which the participants compete with their own teams in Football Ultimate Team, no club funds could be used for this.

Why? If packs are purchased and items drawn from them are used, there is no longer a level playing field. Such a tournament would then be classified as gaming instead of eSports. Which brings us to the explanation of why definition and differentiation are important. After all, the tax office must ultimately be able to verify whether the funds were used in accordance with the statutes

“Little problem-solving oriented thinking “

Although the last coalition wanted to tackle the issue, the cart still seems to be stuck. “There is too little problem-solving oriented thinking, instead the advantages and disadvantages of eSports are discussed again and again,” summarizes Dr. Daum.

A first step would be to draw a line between eSports and gaming. Incidentally, this does not necessarily have to be implemented by the legislator; a court can also recognize a definition -&nbspshould it deem such a definition necessary in proceedings. Perhaps one thing will eventually lead to another

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