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Media & Entertainment

Legal barrier hobbles esports in game-crazy Japan

Prize-money cap preventing country from joining global video-game-competition boom

Japan Amusement Expo x Tokaigi 2017, a joint gaming event held in February, attracted some 70,000 fans at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, near Tokyo, and was streamed to some 4 million fans over the internet.

TOKYO -- Japan is warming to esports -- multiplayer video-game competitions that can draw big crowds and offer cash prizes -- but industry insiders say legal barriers are keeping a potentially major industry in the minor leagues.

Esports -- short for electronic sports -- is already big business in the U.S., Europe and parts of Asia, where purses for some events can soar to the tens of millions of dollars.

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