The Dark Side of eSports
Gambling: An addiction that countless people struggle with. It’s easy to see the appeal. You bet something as collateral, with the chance to be handsomely rewarded for taking the risk. However, some people take it too far, losing their life-savings, their homes, and their self respect. Enter online gambling. Taking away the hassle of physically going to a casino. In fact, you can gamble online just about anywhere. But what does all this have to do with eSports? Well just like traditional sports, people are going to bet on who will win. The difference lies in the fact that just about anyone can participate in this extremely popular way of gambling, including children.
How it all started
Esports gambling grew with the advent of eSports itself. As with traditional sports, people just started betting on matches. Then it grew and grew into what we have today. Websites like dota2lounge.com or betway.com encourage betting. They offer accounts to anyone with the ability to lie on the internet about their age or fill out their credit card information. The trick on most of these sites is that you are gambling away digital items. But, in fact some of these items are worth large quantities of real world currency. They rope you in with the simplicity. They make you forget you are spending money, and take it away from you in one fell swoop.
The infamous 322
One of the most prominent stories that comes to mind is when Rox.Kis member Alexei “Solo” Berezin bet against his own team in Starladder. He then made some questionable plays, throwing the game against zRage so that he could win the items worth a total value of $322. He received a lifetime ban from Starladder (that was later reduced to one year), and was removed from the roster of Rox.Kis. Committing betting fraud is just another example of how gambling is killing the eSports industry.
Valve’s ongoing skin gambling lawsuit
Connecticut resident Michael John McLeod is currently spearheading a lawsuit against popular video game company Valve, creator of the widely used software Steam. McLeod says that Valve “has been complicit in creating, sustaining, and facilitating [a] market.” A market of gambling in which players as young as 12 can easily illegally gamble away virtual items in these ‘online casinos’. Be reminded that some of these virtual items can be valued as high as 38,000 USD. More than a lot of Americans make in a year. In fact, one item recently released by Valve, an Invoker set, has been valued and sold at over $100 on Valve’s Steam Marketplace. Whether or not Valve is successful in defending this lawsuit will likely create a potentially dangerous precedent.
We have yet to see a case in which someone’s life was destroyed by eSports gambling. But, must we wait until such an occurrence comes to fruition? I believe that the eSports community can not benefit from these online skin gambling markets, and that they should be outlawed. Because, such an industry, one that thrives on loss, can not possibly have any advantages not rooted with greed. Valve needs to disassociate itself with these companies and declare its opposition publicly. As for the everyday spectator, these kind of gambling sites should be on the bottom of your priorities, and should be avoided like the black plague. Because that is what they are, a plague on the eSports industry.