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Denmark cracks down on skin betting

Tue, Apr 9, 1:13pm by Staff Writer

Denmark is cracking down on skin betting – which is gambling with virtual goods – with illegal sites getting shut down out of concern for teenagers and children.

Casino.org is reporting that last month, a Copenhagen court approved the government’s request for telecom companies to block 25 unlicensed online sites.

Ten of these had casino games or sports betting and 15 offered skin betting.

Skins are coverings found in video or Internet games and sometimes start as video games, but suddenly turn into gambling, according to gambling abuse experts.

“Might be the look of amour, a weapon or even a background,” explained Dr James Whelan, a professor and co-director at the University of Memphis’ Institute for Gambling Education and Research.

Dr Whelan added that, “the skins or covers can be simply or flashy. A player wagers something of value in order to have a chance or better chance of winning such a covering. It is basically gambling while gaming.”

“Certain skins become highly sought after by players. Unfortunately many of the ‘best’ items are difficult to obtain, thereby raising their value,” he said.

This is the second time in the last year the Danish regulator went to court to block skin betting sites, with six websites blocked in February 2018.

Skin betting sites have sometimes circumvented regulators and that tends to “complicate our work of documenting and blocking,” the director of the Danish Gambling Authority Birgitte Sand said.

Ms Sand explains that the ongoing blocking of illegal sites protects both licensed operators and players.

Last year, the regulator also closed four Facebook groups that provided illegal gambling.

Officials say that since 2012, there has been a decline in the number of websites that target Denmark with illegal gambling.

The authority also notes almost all illegal skin betting websites use the platform Steam for users to login.

Overall, gross gaming revenue from legal online operations has been on the rise in Denmark.

In the last quarter of 2018, online casinos saw more than US$83 million in revenue, which is a 15.8 per cent rise on the fourth quarter of 2017.

The Danish market has grown for a number of years, with increased interest in sports betting and a healthy online casino market.

Skin betting in the UK

In the nearby United Kingdom, the Gambling Commission’s annual report examined skin betting for the first time last November.

One of the major concerns from that report was the increase in children in England, Wales and Scotland being exposed to gambling related activities.

A large percentage of children were regularly playing either free to play or real money games according to Tight Poker.

Skin betting is the latest fad to have caught the attention of children in the UK. It is where players can use real money to purchase items in a video game that can be then wagered or sold for real cash.

A number of online gambling operators have built online games revolving around skin betting video games and are able to lure children to bet with real money.

The UKGC survey found that 45 per cent of those surveyed between the ages of 11 and 16 were aware of skin betting.

Boys were more likely to engage in skin betting as 59 per cent of them knew what skin betting was, while only 31 per cent of girls claimed to know about skin betting.

In 2017, ESP.bet, operator of esports fantasy league and betting website, eSportsPools, became the owner of the first-ever gaming licence that covers skin betting from the Isle of Man.


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