A scandal is unfolding in the US involving the already highly dubious practice of wagering on the Valve videogame first person shooter, Counter-Strike GO. In the June issue of G3 magazine, Rahul Sood, CEO of Unikrn and Mark Robson, Head of eGaming on the Isle of Man, highlighted the risk to the eSports industry as young people wager sums in excess of $20,000 on skins betting websites – in which players barter for virtual weapons and upgrades. An increasing number of websites allow people to trade virtual items for real currency, with the volume of cash wagered on skins in 2015, estimated at around $800m.
Adding petrol to the fire, it appears that two Youtubers, followed by a combined number of eleven million subscribers, have surreptitiously established their own betting site for players to trade skins, and then released videos of themselves ecstatically winning sums of up to $13,000 by playing on the site they own. Both YouTubers have posted numerous videos showing themselves successfully gambling on CSGOLotto.com, a site which allows Counter Strike players – including those under the legal gambling age due to a loophole the site exploits – to gamble with weapon skins which have real-world monetary value. CSGOlotto.com allows players to gamble these skins, like chips in a casino, against other players. A random number generator then decides a winner. Other websites allow these skins to be bet on the outcome of competitive CS:GO matches.
The Youtubers, ‘TmarTn’ and ‘ProSyndicate’ are the President and Vice President of the site, CSGOLotto, which they heavily promote, but have failed to disclose their relationship to the website in any way in the videos they created. Though they have since edited their declarations, the pair may be in violation of US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations relating to endorsements on social media sites.
As Rahul Sood stated about this issue: “These random gambling sites have spawned everywhere. Not one of them is regulated, licensed, and their legal situation is highly questionable. Not one of these sites supports responsible wagering. It’s a total mess.”