UK Gambling Commission Chief Sarah Harrison lashed out against unlicensed e-sports and skins betting sites in a scathing new position paper.
Harrison, like many other skins betting critics, is particularly concerned by the prospect of children wagering on the outcome of e-sports events.
In the paper titled Virtual Currencies, eSports and Social Casino Gaming – A Position Paper, Harrison and the Commission paint a picture of massive regulated industry that’s plagued by the nuisance of unlicensed operators. These operators, the Commission notes, are the ones who allow underage gambling.
This point was illustrated in great detail with a recounting of the recent prosecution of two UK YouTube stars for promoting gambling to minors via their e-sports channels. This particular case was the first exposure many UK parents had to the fact that their children were gambling on the outcome of video games using virtual currency to win virtual prizes known as skins.
As is so often the case in debates surrounding the gaming industry, the Commission’s paper tackles the age-old issue of games of skill and games of chance. On this point the Commission wobbles, at first acknowledging that video games involve mostly skill, but following that up by saying that tournaments involve elements of chance such as the random pairing of opponents.
The Commission put the onus of determining skill vs chance on the industry and cautioned it move forward carefully saying:
Given that range, and the concession by representatives of the industry that most games do incorporate some elements determined at random (albeit notional elements) it is important for games developers and/or esport event organisers to assess the element of chance of a particular game prior to permitting its use for a prize of money or money’s worth.
The not-too-subtle message here is that the video game industry will likely be held accountable for e-sports friendly games that are a little too friendly towards skins bettors and gambling.