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Fiona Simmons February 5, 2024 3 min read
Skins Gambling “Rots the Brains of Young People,” CS Streamer Says
Skins gambling sites allow players to stake cash, crypto or other CS skins for a shot at winning expensive and rare skins
As video gaming grows in popularity, many games have been adding mechanics that resemble gambling. Some people, however, have gone a step further, creating a whole casino-style vertical using Counter-Strike skins as deposits and payouts. A new report by The Guardian saw the news outlet discuss the matter with an elite player.
Jeff, a professional Counter-Strike player, told The Guardian that KeyDrop, a Cyprus-based skins gambling website had offered him a whopping $280,000 to promote their brand for two months. While this was certainly a tempting offer, Jeff decided to instead expose the skins gambling business and talk about its dangers.
According to Jeff, such products constitute unregulated gambling and are “rotting the brains of young people.”
Jeff added that Valve, which takes a cut of every sale on the Steam marketplace, is thus indirectly supporting illegal gambling, even though this might not be its intention. Jeff also accused streamers who accept offers such as the one he received.
Jeff’s decision to critique the CS skins gambling ecosystem was praised by regular fans. However, he also received threats from supporters of the industry who reminded them that “they know where he lives.”
What Is Skin Gambling?
For context, skins are virtual items that change the visuals of players’ avatars or weapons. Skins are usually obtained randomly through loot boxes and can be traded to other players. While skins tend to be purely cosmetic, some are very valuable to players and can cost hundreds of dollars, if not more.
Skins gambling sites allow players to stake cash, crypto or other CS skins for a shot at winning expensive and rare skins. If a player wins, the site uses a peer-to-peer skins trading platform to give them their prize.
However, these sites are usually not regulated and target young people, which is exactly Jeff’s problem. Despite that, estimates say that billions of dollars are being wagered on skins gambling websites.
Skins Gambling Is Yet to Be Regulated
Skins gambling websites usually avoid regulations, at least in the UK, because the ability to “cash out” is crucial in determining whether a product constitutes gambling or not. However, opponents of such products have pointed out that skins can easily be turned into cash through the Steam marketplace or third-party marketplaces such as SkinBaron and Skinwallet.
Overall, the skins gambling sites expose young people to the risks of developing gambling problems. As a result, regular gamers are getting more and more uneasy to see such sites promoted. Because of that, fans recently scrutinized the top esports team G2, which recently penned a partnership with CSGORoll, another skins website.
While the United Kingdom is yet to take action, several European Countries, such as Denmark and France, are already cracking down on skins websites. The Netherlands, on the other hand, seeks to introduce legislation at the European level.