These past years the gaming scene has seen the rise of competitive online games otherwise known as Esports. With games like LoL, DoTA, CS:GO and others being in the center of this new trend. Of course together with every professional competition also come the betting agencies, which in this case did not lose their time to start monetizing. Due to the nature of online gaming, Esports Betting has taken the betting architecture into a whole new level. They have created a new underground market where you can bet and trade digital goods.
First let’s talk about CS:GO Esports Betting. As with most online games CS:GO has a lot of vanity items in which you can obtain in-game by completing various tasks, such as winning in PvP or taking part in tournaments. The bottomline is, in order to get access to these vanity items you need a lot of time. The Esports Betting agencies have come up with a system where you can directly bet with in-game currency. If you win you will get digital currency back equivalent to your bet value multiplied by the betting chance. If you lose they take your betted item.
Then we got LoL and DoTA bets, here things are more simple than CS:GO. You got several professional team matches coming up that will be directly broadcasted in real time. You bet on which team you think will win or by the amount of score differences they might have. This works exactly the same like betting on football. Depending on the bet multiplier set by the betting agency you decide where you want to place your money.
Now all of this sounds like a good concept, but in reality they are dancing back and forth into a gray area of the law. Technically speaking, betting is not allowed for underaged individuals. But, by betting only with in-game items and not real money makes the whole Esports betting scene legal for underage usage since it’s considered as part of the game and not as “real” betting. The same companies that do the betting, have other websites that convert those digital goods into real money or Steam currency.
All of this doesn’t stop there, by utilizing the digital currency these Esports betting companies later allow people to bet their credits in competitive games that have no ingame currency trading, like Hearthstone for example. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem apart from the fact that a major amount of gamers are underaged and giving them access to betting material without parent consent is borderline illegal. A lot of young ones are spending their allowances betting in these online games hoping to win big.
Let me elaborate a bit more on how something like this works. Kid asks parent to deposit money into his Steam wallet to buy some game, but instead of using it to buy said game, they are used for Esports Betting. Moreover most of these Esports Betting platforms are directly integrated with Steam making the whole thing streamlined.
This Esports Betting thing is brand new and most people not into the system are not even aware of its existence. There’s some serious money being gambled in a daily basis here, and a large sum of that money is from kids that think something like this is normal. By exploiting the outdated laws, companies are getting rich by something that seems as innocent as a video game.
My intention here is not to butcher the whole Esports Betting scene, in fact it’s a very good idea and gives a brand new aspect to professional gaming, BUT in the same time we need to be careful as gambling is never something to be taken lightly, even more so for underagers.