Valve’s announcement and the cease and desist letters sent out to 23 skins betting sites were long overdue but now at least the issue is being tackled.
Accurate estimations of the true value of skins betting are unsurprisingly hard to pinpoint with numerous sites operating in the shadows with little to no regulation. Some reports such as one by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming have suggested that in 2015 the value was around $2.2bn (£1.6bn), but that this could shoot to over $7bn (£5.3bn) this year if nothing was done. A further prediction was that it could be worth over $20bn (£15.2bn) by 2020, though this report was released pre-Valve announcement.
Rahul Sood, Founder of Unikrn, has long been vocal about the need for something to be done about skins betting. He’s been especially focused on the lack of age restrictions and controls which have meant that a huge numbers of the players on these sites are in their teens.
Sood said this about the call for regulation: “So, does skin betting need more restrictions? No, it needs some real companies to step up and build a proper, viable and safe industry.”
Skins betting though is just one issue in esports right now. The ESIC (Esports Integrity Coalition) is a non-profit body which was formed to tackle all of these issues head on.
Its remit is on integrity and integrity alone, and vitally it has no commercial interests within the wider industry.
Commissioner Ian Smith, whose background in integrity spans over two decades with Sports Integrity Matters, gave this warning regarding skins betting following Valve’s move: “This isn’t to say it won’t reinvent itself in a different way as there’s undoubtedly still space for this type of betting. As long as there is a relatively easy way to convert skins to cash then it’s just betting with a different currency.”
Smith will be speaking on the subject of protecting esports integrity and the various measures which can and are being taken at the Betting on Sports 2016 conference (15-16 September) at London’s Grange Tower Bridge.