Concerns Over Video Game Gambling
The UK Gambling Commission has announced it has concerns that children may be gambling or being encouraged to gamble on and in video games. This has coincided with the rise of eSports and social gaming. Two men were actually prosecuted for running a third party website that allowed bets to be placed using FIFA Ultimate Team’s virtual currency, otherwise known as coins of FUT coins. Bets could be placed using these coins and then they could be sold for real money on other unauthorized websites.
eSports is definitely playing a huge role as it is growing day by day. The likes of FIFA Ultimate Team, Call of Duty and League of Legends have seen millions of people take gaming more seriously now there are prizes and money to be won and if people aren’t playing it, they’re watching somebody else play on streaming websites. eSports combined with streaming has seen gaming communities grow and the ages range from young to old.
Gambling and betting has to be licensed, so what has been found is that third party websites are letting people place bets on the outcomes of video game matches; which are just very basic win or lose scenarios but the currency used isn’t money, it is in game items such as what are known as skins. It’s currently estimated that the skins gambling market is worth around $5bn and it’s still growing. With it not being regulated, anyone is free to use the service and it’s believed that of the people who have placed bets on eSports, 90% of them used skins to do so.
The gambling and betting that does take place on these sorts of websites is a sort of hidden form of gambling. Some people, especially children, may not understand fully what is happening. It may just be seen as a bit of fun for many people, especially as it is predominantly in-game items that are being used as currency. Obviously, people have to buy these items but because they may see it as betting with skins, vulnerable people may forget that it’s just a cover to allow an unlicensed gambling website to operate in the shadows of the Internet.
One thing is for certain though, the Gambling Commission is taking a strong stance on this and is looking to prosecute anyone who is operating an unlicensed gambling website where they use popular video games to entice people into their hidden betting set up. It’s clear to see too as this year saw the first prosecutions of its kind made against the two men who ran a FIFA orientated unlicensed betting website. One man was ordered to pay £174,000 and his accomplice was fined £91,000.
Reputable and well established online casino brands will be comforted that regulatory authorities are starting to understand and take control of this aspect of the business. This is because there has been a popular trend for video games to incorporate aspects of gambling and for these games and gambling to become morphed into something new and exciting. However, in recent years, the gaming industry has always been very careful not to encourage or generate any negative publicity; and have always taken steps to resolve any aspect of the business which ultimately reflects badly on the entire industry.
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission will have to be on its toes though as eSports and video games are going from strength to strength. The more games grow in popularity, the more likely it is that these sorts of websites will appear. The action taken against the two men earlier this year should act as a deterrent though, for now.