Yesterday the UK Gambling Commission (“UKGC”) called on parents to be aware of the risk of underage and unlicensed gambling relating to video games and esports.
The warning follows the issue of the UKGC paper on virtual currencies, esports and social gaming which ESI will provide further comment on at a later date.
The paper touches on the unregulated skin-betting industry which allows anyone to wager their in-game items on the outcome of their favourite teams. The Narus Advisors report suggests the industry would have taken $7.4bn (£6bn) of wagers in 2016 had Valve not issued Cease & Desist orders to certain companies.
Not only is the industry unregulated in a gambling sense but there’s also little to no age verification therefore making illegal, underage betting a significant problem. UKGC CEO Sarah Harrison said: “Mums and dads could be giving away money to a child thinking they are playing a computer game when in fact they’re gambling and this is a real worry”.
She continued “Gambling on esports with in-game items is growing and we need to make sure all gambling is fair, safe, crime-free and protects the young and vulnerable”.
The paper has received further support from the government, with Tracey Crouch, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport commenting: “It is vital that any form of gambling online is properly regulated and paramount that we protect children and vulnerable people” before adding “The Gambling Commission has shown that it will take action and prosecute but it is important htat parents are vigilant too and know about this risk to their children”.
The action she refers to comes in the form of the prosecution of Dylan Rigby and Craig Douglas who were ordered to pay combined finals totalling well over £250,000 for operating and advertising FutGalaxy.com – a site that both facilitated and promoted unlicensed gambling of FIFA coins.
Esports Insider says: Norway and the UK both taking a stance on skin betting is great to see. There’s no place for unregulated and unsafe gambling and it’s important for both the esports and betting industries that we can usher in an era of safe, regulated gambling.