The popularity of video gaming has led to the addition of gambling mechanics in many games. However, some have taken it a step further by creating a whole casino-style vertical using Counter-Strike skins as deposits and payouts. An article in The Guardian discussed this with Jeff, a professional Counter-Strike player who was offered $280,000 to promote a skins gambling website. Instead, Jeff decided to expose the dangers of the business, calling it unregulated gambling that is harming young people.
Jeff criticized Valve for indirectly supporting illegal gambling through the Steam marketplace and accused streamers who accept offers to promote skins gambling. While Jeff’s decision was praised by some, he also received threats from supporters of the industry.
For context, skins are virtual items that change the visuals of players’ avatars or weapons and are obtained randomly through loot boxes. Skins gambling sites allow players to stake cash, crypto, or other CS skins for a chance to win expensive and rare skins. These sites are not regulated and target young people, with billions of dollars being wagered.
In the UK, skins gambling websites avoid regulations by not allowing players to cash out, a key factor in determining whether a product constitutes gambling. However, opponents argue that skins can easily be turned into cash through third-party marketplaces. This exposes young people to the risks of developing gambling problems, causing regular gamers to become uneasy about the promotion of such sites.
While the UK has yet to take action, several European countries are cracking down on skins gambling websites. Denmark and France are among those taking action, and the Netherlands seeks to introduce legislation at the European level. With the growing concerns surrounding skins gambling, the future of these websites remains uncertain.