Young people worldwide lose money on “skin gambling”
Huge amount of money is spent each year on “skin gambling” a rising trend of virtual currency gambling that established in many video games.
Skins were popularized in the 2012 video game Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), owned by the US-based Valve Corporation. Valve also developed the Steam market platform, which lets people buy, sell or exchange their own skin collections for the real or virtual currency.
A lot of young individuals worldwide are losing big amounts of money on gambling websites which allow them to gamble virtual items.
What is skin gambling?
Skin gambling is the use of virtual goods in video games which are most commonly visual elements so called “skins” which don’t have influence on gameplay as virtual currency for betting on the games of chance (slots, roulette, etc) or professional matches.
Skins are virtual items (collectables) in video games that change the appearance of a weapon, like turning a sniper into a colored sniper. Skins can be gathered in a game, but they can also be purchased with money. Many games also let players to exchange and sell skins, with rarer examples attracting more money.
As a result, individual skins have developed unique values, based on market demand. In this process, skins have themselves become a virtual online currency.
It got viral within the community for the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive but this practice exists in other games.
They can win items such as modified rifles or other weapons within a game known as a “skin” which can be sold and turned back into actual money.
The annual report of Gambling Commission’s has for the first time looked at the problem of well-known “skin gambling”.
Here are some stats from the annual report:
- 45 percent of 11-16 year-olds were aware of “skin gambling”
- 11 percent of 11-16 year-olds had placed bets with items from the game
- 59% of boys were familiar with this activity compared with 31% of girls
Third party websites allow children to gamble the skins on casino type games offering them in return the chance to earn real money.
The report from United Kingdom shows that around 370,000 11-16 year-olds spent their own money on gambling in the past week, in England, Scotland and Wales.
In most cases children were gambling on sport matches, fruit slot machines and lottery scratch cards.
In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, players can trade money for the chance to obtain a modified weapon (skin) and many gambling websites have been designed around this game.
A number of websites related to CS:GO gambling let players gamble with their skins for the chance to win more valuable ones. Because skins won on these websites could be sold and exchanged back to real money, critics say skin betting is illegal gambling.
Some young people have made gambling debts of £20,000 or more and many parents are worried about the negative impact gambling has on their children.
The Gambling Commission is calling for more advice and guidance to help prevent young people from becoming addicted to skin gambling.It advises schools to provide the same level of warning information and support about the gambling as they do for drugs, alcohol and safe sex.
Another category of gambling websites offer you to exchange your items into a virtual currency for use in browser versions of classic gambling games like dice, poker, rock-paper-scissors, or roulette. On csgolive.com, you can play blackjack using ‘chips’ converted from the value of your deposited skins.
CS:GO introduced players with mystery boxes that you can pay $2.49 to open while you’re in the game. Websites like skincrates.com try to imitate the adrenaline of unlocking these cases. SkinCrates repackages CS:GO skins that they own into custom ‘boxes’ that you can pay to unlock on their website.
Is skin gambling legal?
There isn’t much legal precedent on skin gambling. Skins basically represent money, virtual currency, or more precisely the arcade tokens that gambling websites accept for playing machines.
CS:GO skin gambling operations are not in approaching legal danger and there are no known legal suits against them so far. For example in United States sports betting is illegal everywhere with the exception of Nevada, Montana, Oregon, and Delaware. Online gambling is prohibited in all but three US states, even if you’re above 18.
Skin gambling will continue to be a morally and legally gray by product of one of the world’s most popular PC games that’s accessible to anyone with a Steam account, unless Valve makes an official statement disapprove the activities of these groups, or forbids use of it’s Steam Market API to groups that it vets.
We can’t ignore the fact that young people are gambling items worth real money (sometimes a huge amount) on CS:GO betting. And when they lose their bets, like in the real world gambling, they rage, they get very upset and angry, and then they compulsively continue to do the same thing over again. For example on the websites like Esports Bets, players can put more and more money into gambling on CS:GO pro games. This has the potential to cause a lot of problems as it was reported that professional players got death threats by people who lost bets, like it happens in football for example.
Because gambling can cause depression, anxiety and self-harming tendencies, several physical signs are to be watched out for. Depression and anxiety sometimes lead to sleep deprivation, which may result in pale skin, weight gain or weight loss, acne and dark circles under the eyes.
Bad influences for underage
Social platforms, such as Twitch and YouTube, have trending videos and streams affirming or promoting skin gambling. Seeing videos of popular gaming influencers ‘winning big’ on skin gambling presents a distorted view of the reality, which can lead less critical minds to think that winning is easy.
Twitch has recently prohibited skin gambling streams on their website, but on Youtube videos still remain for 13+ audience.