Young Venezuelans aspire to gambling stardom despite obstacles

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CAGUA, Venezuela, Sept 1 (Reuters) – Player Gabriel Parra was delighted to be hailed as the “Venezuelan star” after scoring the fastest time in an international Formula One eSports racing competition in May.

“The truth is that when I saw the result… it was something magical, surprising, a dream that I always had as a child and which came true”, said Parra, 23, who lives in Aragua state in central Venezuela. and started playing video games at the age of four.

He is one of approximately 3,000 young Venezuelans competing in the multimillion-dollar “eSports” industry, a lucrative business with international signings, awards and millions of viewers that has begun to flourish in the nation. Andean region, despite economic chaos, poor internet connection, power outages and local restrictions on war games.

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The dream of earning a living as a professional gamer is particularly evocative for many young people in Venezuela given the few opportunities otherwise available in a country with a minimum monthly wage equivalent to around $22 a month. Read more

Venezuela has long suffered from hyperinflation under the presidency of socialist Nicolas Maduro. Although it has slowed somewhat this year, its annualized inflation rate of 167% in May remains among the highest in the world.

Professional players who aspire to become international superstars train an average of 40 hours a week. It’s a dream job for many teenagers, offering perks like recurring income, the ability to work from home, and the ability to combine hobbies and careers.

Globally, most gamers who sign with eSports teams can earn salaries ranging from $200 to $10,000 per month, plus prize money, according to data from the esports federation.

Universidad Catolica Andres Bello, one of Venezuela’s leading private colleges, recently opened the first eSports academy to train players for international competitions. A month-long course can cost around $150, while the hourly rate is $5, said academic coordinator Carlos De Abreu.

“There are a lot of people interested, there is a lot of talent here in Venezuela, a lot of players,” Abreu said.

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Reporting by Deisy Buitrago in Cagua; Written by Steven Grattan; Editing by Christian Plumb, Alexandra Hudson

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