Rogue gaming sites let children gamble hundreds of millions

More than £5 billion worth of 'skins' bet globally in 2015

More than nine in 10 parents admitting to having argued about when to allow their children to reach certain milestones
More than nine in 10 parents admitting to having argued about when to allow their children to reach certain milestones

Thousands of children are betting millions of pounds on the outcomes of matches played by professional video gamers on unlicensed gambling websites.

The teenagers are using "skins" as a virtual currency, which can be won or bought in game and act as cosmetic upgrades to a player's character, such as camouflage for a gun or a new suit of armour.

More than £5 billion worth of "skins" were bet globally in 2015, The Times reports.

The virtual currency is then bet on the outcome of matches between gamers in "eSports" competitions in games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2 and League of Legends.

One website, CS:GOLounge, reportedly took more than £800 million in "skin" bets last year. Five per cent of traffic to the Costa Rica-based site came from the UK.

A third third of its visitors were under 18, suggesting British children bet more than £12 million on the site in 2015.

The Gambling Commission has expressed its concern and published a consultation paper outlining which activities need to be licensed and which do not.

“We are concerned about virtual currencies and ‘in-game’ items, which can be used to gamble," Neil McArthur, general counsel at the Gambling Commission, told The Times.

“Any operator wishing to offer facilities for gambling, including gambling using virtual currencies, to consumers in Great Britain must hold an operating licence.

“Any operator who is offering unlicensed gambling must stop — or face the consequences.

“We expect operators offering markets on eSports to manage the risks — including the significant risk that children and young people may try to bet on such events given the growing popularity of eSports with those who are too young to gamble.”

Valve Software, who made Counter-Strike, are now trying to crack down on "skin" betting.

Legal action has been taken in the US against the game developer and several other websites, alleging Valve made profits from transactions related to gambling.

The case also accuses British vlogger Tom Cassel, known by his username "Syndicate," of "actively promoting [CSGOLotto] as a gambling service, including to minors".

Earlier this week, CS:GO Lounge closed its virtual betting after a cease and desist letter.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in