More than 164 million adults frequently play video games in the US, with three out of four American households having at least one gamer. Let's face it - gaming is the leading type of entertainment today, with binge-watching Netflix shows as the distant runner-up.
The video game industry shows no signs of stopping. It's experiencing growth across all departments and has already taken over the entertainment world. However, the booming video game industry has problems of its own. Growing trends of lootboxes and microtransactions are still going strong, despite several countries ruling against their favor. Alongside lootboxes and microtransactions, we have skin betting that could significantly hurt the integrity of both gaming and esports industries.
Skin Betting 101
I'm sure you guys know about in-game items called skins. The gaming world is packed with them, mostly popular multiplayer games with a competitive nature, such as Fortnite, CS:GO, LoL, and Dota 2.
Typically, all they do is bring an aesthetic change without giving the player any kind of competitive advantage. However, did you guys know you can use some of these skins to place online wagers on various online betting platforms?
Yep, skin betting is what we're talking about here, and it's not exactly the best method of online betting on video games. In other words, if you're interested in betting on games such as Dota 2, LoL, and CS:GO, you're better off using conventional esports betting sites. These won't allow you to bet with your skins, but they offer both sports and esports, and possess far better security than skin betting websites.
There's more to skin betting websites than poor security! Since a good portion of gamers are underage, and these websites have almost non-existent security checkups, they're known for facilitating online gambling to minors.
While it doesn't seem so bad at first, skin betting and lootboxes could really endanger our youth. The gaming world is packed with maleficent business practices, and minors might not even realize it.
Skin Betting Lives On
I guess the worst is done as far as skin betting is concerned. Their glory days were way back in 2014 and 2015. From 2016 onward, after Valve's cease and desist letters, skin betting websites operate in a different fashion.
Yes, their operations still pan out in a manner of shady, gray areas of online gambling regulations. Still, there's a lot more security involved in the process, as well as more sophisticated methods of bypassing various ToS and EULA agreements.
But, at the end of the day, skin betting is still a way for teenagers to engage in online gambling, and we can't do anything but condemn it.
Microtransactions and Lootboxes as Real Issues
When talking about ways for teenagers to engage in online gambling, we can't skip lootboxes. As microtransactions started making their way into numerous video games, lootboxes followed in their footsteps.
Basically, lootboxes are in-game “boxes” that can be opened. They contain a wide selection of items, with a small chance of splashing out an incredibly rare (usually expensive) item. The problem is, most of the time, players are getting far lesser value in items than what they paid for.
In essence, lootboxes are carefully concealed gambling opportunities. Worst of all, they are directly targeting minors, which is not just a problem of the gaming industry but a problem for international gambling regulators, too.
Even though computer scientists claim there’s no correlation between lootboxes and underage gambling problems, some countries started sharpening their teeth on lootboxes.
Belgium is the perfect role model in this story, having banned lootboxes already. The Netherlands has done the same, with an EU-wide ban on lootboxes potentially on the horizon. The US still hasn’t made a final decision, but some senators already have strong opinions on the potential damage lootboxes could do to our youth.