It turns out that Aussie teens might have a bit of a gambling problem, but definitely not in the way you’d expect.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is a popular online video game with a massive following of both players and eSports spectators. I bet you think they’re betting on their favourite professional teams (yes, professional), don’t you? You’d be wrong. They’re using in-game weapon skins as currency.
Skins are essentially alternative models for in-game weapons. They have no effect on the performance of the weapon, they just look pretty. These can be earned by playing the game, bought through the game and its publisher (Valve) or via third party websites.
These skins have a real-world value based on their rarity, ranging from mere cents to over $2,000. As there is no age limit for obtaining these skins, young people are free to do whatever they want with them, and they wanna gamble god dammit!
Using unregulated third party websites, anyone can make an account and use their CS:GO skins as currency to bet on blackjack, roulette or even a simple coin flip. So in the same way you would go to the Casino (because that’s where Mike Baird wants you to go) and use chips to bet, skins are being used to bet on a variety of games.
Eighteen-year-old Brisbane gamer Jordan Bruce told The ABC that like any addiction, it started small before growing out of control.
“[I] bet all my money on skins, I was that much into it, then it started getting bad,” he said.
At one point, Jordan stole his dads credit card and gambled $1,800.
“I just had that urge. I hated it and I hated myself after it, but at the time I just thought ‘I won’t get caught'”
Understandably, his dad, Andrew Bruce, was pissed off.
“I was horrified that there had been so much money spent on a service, that up until that time, I didn’t know about,” he said.
Jordan reckons seeing popular gamers stream their own skin gambling via Twitch or YouTube contributed to his interest in the activity.
“Seeing how much they go in, how much they got out of it and just wanting to be like that,” he said.
Founder of US skin eSports gambling website Unikrn, Rahul Sood says the lack of regulation in the industry scares the shit out of him.
“It’s just so easy to do and because there’s no oversight and no regulation, there are sites from all over the world that are accepting bets and nobody seems to care,” he said.
Meanwhile, online gambling expert Dr Sally Gainsbury says Australian regulation and oversight is “hopelessly out of date”.
“The regulation for internet gambling was actually created before Facebook even existed,” she said.
“There’s very little effort being put into updating the internet gambling regulation. It’s unlikely that anything will be done about it any time soon.”
The ABC reached out to Valve, Steam and Twitch, but are yet to receive any response on the matter.
With the massive emergence of eSports across the world, governments will need to come to the party to ensure proper rules and regulations are put in place to protect the children. As a fan of the game, it’s genuinely exciting to see it garnering so much attention. Fox Sports have even begun broadcasting major matches on their network. What a time to be alive.
See you in Mirage, suckas! 1v1 me.