No idea what the title means? Then you probably have never heard of CS:GO. Briefly, CS:GO is a computer game that was recently involved in a gambling controversy. You see, in this game you can get skins (eg patterns that can be put on your guns). The rarity and desirability for some of these skins resulted in real world value being attributed to them – with some skins being worth thousands of dollars. This led to the skins being available to buy for real money.
A collection of websites quickly saw an opportunity to create a gambling market for these skins. Allowing players to gamble the skins that they had spent real money purchasing in an attempt to gain even more skins (a double or nothing type approach).
At this point you may be thinking, what’s the problem with all this? Well, these gambling sites allowed you to log on to them using your Steam (gaming platform on which a user purchases CS:GO and their skins) account. This Steam account is not age limited. Meaning that children as young as 12 where able to gamble. Which we don’t need to tell you, is highly illegal.
Now this is just one video game, the impact of this must have been fairly minor? Well, not quite – in just 7 months, these sites had seen over $1bn in wagers. Making the owners of these sites, really rather wealthy. Needless to say, the Gambling Commission in the US was suitably outraged, but predictably un-prepared to deal with this situation. This is new legal territory that is being explored here, and no one quite knows who should take the lead or who is to blame. Should the websites be guilty or Steam for allowing their open API (application programming interface) to be used by said websites?
When you dig deeper into this story there has been some very shady activity from all parties. Not least, ‘famous’ YouTube stars who have promoted certain gambling sites to their audiences, claiming to have won thousands using the sites, only for it to be revealed that they own said sites. If you want to read more about these particular instances, we suggest reading this article.
This is not an issue that is exclusive to this one game, CS:GO. Many more have ‘virtual currency’ which can be used to purchase in-game items, the latest FIFA game being among them. It is only a matter of time before this gambling industry finds another loophole while legislators and lawmakers play catch-up.
It just goes to show that gambling comes in all shapes and sizes. Who knows, perhaps it won’t be too long before us Matched Bettors can back and lay someone’s bid on online gun skins. Not such a far-fetched notion we feel! One thing is certain, $1bn in 7 months will have caught the eye of international bookmakers, and there will undoubtedly be conversations happening as to whether they can jump on board and find ways to ‘legalise’ the process.