Saturday, February 10, 2024

Gambling in video games--entry level gambling for minors?

 In-game gambling for video game tools has become an unregulated form of online gambling that may provide minors with their first gambling fix...

The Guardian has the story:

‘It’s rotting young people’s brains’: the murky world of gambling in video games. In-game purchases of bonus items have long been available. But now gamers are being lured into casino-style betting to win them.  by Rob Davies

"For the uninitiated, “skins” are virtual items within a computer game that can be bought for money, or won as a reward for gameplay. Skins might be devastating weapons, a snazzy uniform for a character or – in a football game – a player who could be the missing link to complete an all-conquering team.


"Typically, skins are contained in “loot boxes” or “cases”, which gamers pay small sums for without knowing what they will get.

"Loot boxes have already become a lightning rod for controversy due to their gambling-style mechanism, although the UK government has refused to recognise them as gambling products.

"While skins can be found in loot boxes, they can also be bought in the online marketplace operated by online gaming platform Steam – the medium through which many games such as CS:GO are played.

"Through that marketplace, skins can also be transferred between players and into the game. There, competitors can use them to gain an advantage, or just for cosmetic effect.

"What bothered Jeff [a professional video gamer], however, was not so much the loot boxes or the skins in themselves but another phenomenon that they have spawned: skins gambling.

'This works like any other casino. You load up your account with funds, place a bet, watch the graphics spin and either win or lose.

"The big difference in this case is that the casino taking your bet has no gambling licence and, in some cases, no reliable mechanism to stop under-18s getting their first taste of gambling – via an online ecosystem that is, to many parents, a total mystery


"Some skins carry enormous price tags in the real world. One website that tracks skin prices values a “Gungnir” sniper rifle, available in the CS:GO game, at more than $18,000. A knife – a “factory new, case-hardened Karambit, pattern 387 (blue gem)” – is reputedly the most expensive CS:GO skin in history, attracting a $1.5m offer that its owner turned down. Further down the scale, guns, outfits, stickers and knives sell for hundreds of dollars.


"it can be literally child’s play to turn skins into hard cash. To use sites such as KeyDrop, players must have an account on the Steam platform, which was created by the maker of CS:GO, US-based game developer Valve.

"Steam has its own marketplace, where gamers can trade skins. Gift cards to help gamers buy such skins are big business at Christmas, an obvious choice for anyone with a relative or a friend who loves nothing more than spending hours in front of a game.

"The Steam marketplace is self-contained, at least initially. You can load cash into your wallet and use those funds to buy skins from Steam or from other gamers. You cannot, however, withdraw the funds. In ­theory, therefore, the marketplace is not somewhere you could properly cash out any winnings.

"But an industry has sprung up: third-party marketplaces such as SkinBaron and Skinwallet, where you can sell skins, including those won on gambling sites, for real money."

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