July 25, 2024
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The On-line Gaming Worker: Computer Whiz or Professional Athlete?

Reprinted with permission from The Jewish Press

The online gaming industry, already extremely popular throughout the world, has finally received the United States government seal of approval: New Jersey is the first state to change its laws to legalize online gaming, allowing for a relaxation and diversification of its current gambling laws.

E-gambling is an exciting new business frontier in the United States, and foreign nationals already want in. Moreover, given the success of online gaming in Europe, U.S. gambling and casino companies will undoubtedly seek to import international talent to help the industry grow and flourish.

Numerous studies have shown the many positive effects which the casino gaming industry has on communities around the world as it helps bolster the marketplace with its highly profitable income. In addition to the billions of dollars generated in gross revenues by casinos, state and local governments can tax gaming revenues and, in turn, help fund public education, public safety, housing, and health care, and many other programs. The gaming industry also creates additional employment opportunities. The commercial casino industry alone is responsible for providing hundreds of thousands of jobs.

In fact, the federal government now recognizes gamers of League of Legends, the multiplayer online battle arena video game, as professional athletes. As such, foreign players can obtain visas to work in the U.S., just like soccer icons David Beckham and Pele. Under current U.S. immigration practices, internationally recognized individual or team athletes may be granted visas which allow them to be temporarily employed in the United States for up to five years. Now, both players and business professionals in the online gaming industry may obtain permission to work in the U.S. and contribute meaningfully to the U.S. economy.

The O-1 visa classification was established to ensure that the world’s most talented, prolific, and intellectual individuals can practice in their fields of expertise in the United States. This important nonimmigrant visa is granted to an individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

The P-1 nonimmigrant visa classification is granted to the individual athlete who is coming to the United States to participate in an individual event, competition or performance in which s/he is internationally recognized with a high level of achievement: evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered so that the achievement is renowned, leading or well known in more than one country. An athletic team which desires to come to the United States to participate in team events must show that it has achieved significant international recognition in the sport and that the event in which the team is participating is distinguished and requires the participation of athletic teams of international recognition.

The immigration law firm of Wildes & Weinberg, P.C. has been servicing the immigration needs of prominent American and International firms, banks, industrial, financial and manufacturing concerns, law firms and performers in connection with the personnel needs of their foreign national employees for more than five decades. The firm has successfully obtained visas including H-1B visas for specialty occupations, for many professionals in the gaming and gambling industry including online gaming, and has had much success in representing companies and individuals seeking to enter the U.S. for gaming industry employment purposes.

* This article is based on information available as of its publication and is not intended to be all-inclusive or to furnish advice in a particular case. We are not responsible for any changes in regulations that may occur subsequent to publication. Please feel free to contact our office for further information and advice.

Michael J. Wildes, is the Managing Partner of Wildes and Weinberg, P.C. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and was the Mayor of Englewood–where he lives. Wildes and Weinberg, P.C. has offices in New York, New Jersey, and Florida. Contact: [email protected] and visit the firm’s website at www.wildeslaw.com.

By Michael J. Wildes, Esq.

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