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‘Skins’ betting crackdown as Valve receives legal notice in US

Sat, Oct 8, 9:31am by Staff Writer

The massive market for ‘skins’ betting on online video games has again come under the spotlight, with video game studio Valve issued with a legal notice in the USA.

The unregulated skins betting industry has sprung up in games such as Counter Strike: GO, with players able to gamble with virtual items which can then be sold for real money in an online environment.

Valve operates the Steam software platform, which allows players to trade ‘skins’, which are collectable virtual items which change the appearance of a user’s weapon in games such as CS:GO.

Now the Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) has sent Valve a cease and desist letter as it attempts to crackdown on the sites.

While Valve doesn’t operate the illegal betting sites, and did order 40 of these websites to stop operating, the WSGC is putting the responsibility for the booming industry at the feet of the software developer.

Skins betting has turned into a global phenomenon, with some of the collectable skins fetching thousands of dollars in online auctions.

It has turned games such as CS: Go, as well as many other games which utilise a similar concept, into an ongoing transaction.

Players can gamble their skins in order to upgrade to better ones, while there is an enormous black market trade which in close to untraceable by authorities.

The WSGC said Valve needed to “stop allowing the transfer of virtual weapons known as ‘skins’ for gambling activities”.

It said Valve’s Steam software platform facilitated the activity.

“All third-party gambling sites have Steam accounts and use the Steam platform to conduct their gambling transactions,” the WSGC said in a statement.

Skins betting is separate to the billions gambled directly on the outcome of these games, a practice known as esports betting.

That practice has already drawn considerable concern from Australian lawmakers, with South Australia proposing to ban any betting on these games.

“Children are particularly vulnerable to the attraction of gambling on sporting contests conducted on the platform of video games,” South Australian Consumer and Business Affairs Minister John Rau said in August.

“The Government is determined to keep our children cyber-safe.”

“We do not want them to be introduced to gambling under the guise of a game.”

Two men in the UK were recently charged for betting on video games under the Gambling Act, in a first in that country’s battle against Esports gambling.

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