A new type of gambling website has emerged in China, evading strict online gambling laws by using strategic disguises to operate under the radar. These platforms, known as “skin gambling” websites, use virtual “skins” as currency for betting, exploiting the monetary value of customizable items for video game characters.
Despite the Chinese government’s efforts to crack down on online gambling, skin gambling websites have largely avoided regulatory scrutiny. However, recent reports indicate that authorities are increasing their efforts to enforce online gambling laws and target these platforms.
Despite regulatory measures, the skin gambling industry continues to thrive, with operators adapting their strategies to evade enforcement actions. A recent study by Junqing Zhang at the Kyushu University School of Integrated Sciences for Global Society looked into the operations of leading Chinese skin gambling companies—VPgame, Max+, and C5game—to understand how they have managed to thrive despite legal restrictions.
The study revealed that these companies have cleverly portrayed themselves as legitimate entities within the esports, gaming forums, and virtual item trading markets. VPgame has positioned itself as part of the booming esports industry in China, offering esports-related services alongside its skin gambling platform to evade government scrutiny. Max+ has masqueraded as a popular gaming forum, attracting users with extensive gaming discussions while facilitating skin gambling activities in secret. C5game has operated as a virtual item trading market, allowing users to buy and sell game skins under the guise of virtual asset trading while facilitating skin gambling through jackpot-style events.
Despite the success of these strategic disguises, the full extent of the skin gambling industry in China remains uncertain. Further research is needed to fully understand the landscape of skin gambling websites and their operations within the country. As Chinese authorities ramp up efforts to crack down on skin gambling, it remains to be seen how these platforms will continue to adapt and evade scrutiny in the future.