A resident of Connecticut has filed a lawsuit against the video gaming developer, Valve Corporation, alleging that they facilitated the growth of the multi-billion dollar skin betting industry.
I don’t know if he plays Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO), but in 1985, that man was the bane of my life.
There was a gaping hole in my Panini sticker book. Everton was the only side without a full lineup. Lineker was missing in action. The search for the England striker turned me into a desperado. It didn’t matter how many packets I bought he remained as elusive as a Tasmanian Tiger.
I should have kept my mouth shut.
One day, when doing swapsies in the yard my mate had a spare Gary Lineker. I offered him everyone in my doubles pack. I offered him all of my doubles. He wanted £5. I was 10-years old. £5 was a lot of money. My criminal instinct emerged. I stole it from my Mum.
Earlier today, my son bought a pack of players for FIFA on the Xbox. It cost me £7.99. He likes me to sit beside him when he opens them. He’s like a junkie. It’s a look that I have seen many times before. The packet spins on the screen in front of us, and another set of crappy players bounce from the virtual pack.
“Dad, can I have another pack?”
Some things change, and some things don’t. We all like to collect things. We all like a flutter. I’m just glad that my son doesn’t play CS: GO.
The Birth of Skin Betting
In 2013, CS: GO developers, Valve Corporation, unwittingly created what would later become the skin betting market when an exclusive ‘Arms Deal Update’ was released allowing players to trade virtual goods that they had earned in the game. My Gary Lineker became a millennials sub-machine gun.
Fast forward two years and some number crunching by Eilers Research, LLC found that people like my son had wagered $800m through skin betting sites, compared to $250m on bog standard eSports wagering.
That’s the Mariana Trench.
That’s a good indication of what the customer wants.
That’s a clue that eSports skin betting needs regulating.
Who Created This? Who Controls This? Let’s Point the Finger at Valve
Last week, Polygon reported that a video gamer called Michael McLeod had sued Valve Corporation claiming the video gaming developer facilitated ‘the growth of the illegal internet gambling enterprises, such as those operated by Lounge, OPSkins and Diamonds, that blossomed into billion dollar business’.
Lounge, OPSkins, and Diamonds are third party websites where the gambling of skins takes place. The lawsuit alleges that Valve ‘provided money, technical support, and advice’ for the three mentioned companies and that this provides ‘legitimacy to the illegal gambling’.
It’s widely believed due to the demographics of the game that there are a lot of underage teenagers, and children who are involved in skin betting. McLeod himself reported betting on these sites, and losing money, both when a minor and as an adult.
Is McLeod in Line For a Payout?
According to the team at eSportsBettingReport (ESBR), McLeod is set to lose once again. Authors Chris Grove and Will Green sought advice from legal eagles such as Jeff Ifrah and Jessica Feil of Ifrah Law, and they don’t believe the case has very sturdy legs calling it ‘frivolous’ and ‘likely to be dismissed.’
Ifrah pointed to the fact that Valve created the platform so people could play on it.
“Virtual items were played in a virtual world for virtual rewards,” Ifrah told ESBR while quoting the Mason vs. Machine Zone case that ruled that virtual gambling was not illegal.
The laws of California and Maryland do not trifle with play money, and so Plaintiff’s Complaint must be dismissed: read the text of the final court memorandum on the matter.
Ifrah also questioned the accuracy of the allegations that Valve directly benefited financially from the skin betting transactions.
The case will rumble on.
In the meantime, check out the Top 5 Biggest CS: GO skin betting wins as of Jan 2016. The biggest win was $101,076, and yes I would have bet that much to get my mugshot of Gary Lineker.