“Skins” in the Game: Counter-Strike, Esports, and the Shady World of Online Gambling (open access article)

Hardenstein, T. (2017). UNLV Gaming Law Journal: 7(2), article 5. Retrieved from http://scholars.law.unlv.edu/glj/vol7/iss2/5

Released in 2012, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is the sequel to Counter-Strike, the most-played online PC action game of all time. 1 CS:GO casts players as two teams of five players with the goal to either eliminate the opposing team or disarm a bomb set by them. 2 The fast-paced first-persons hooter has rapidly grown in popularity among the online video game community. 3 Since Counter-Strike’s original release in 1999, two major movements have occurred: 1) the rise of Esports4 as a major industry; and 2) an explosion of interest in online gambling. With the release of CS:GO in 2012, these two phenomena converged, fostering a growing practice of wagering ingame
items on CS:GO matches through a number of third-party sites not affiliated with Esports leagues or game developers. 5 Scholars, industry experts, and legal theorists have just begun to explore the link between online gambling and video games.6 As of late, however, the practice of wagering in-game items—specifically the “weapon-skins” bought, sold, and traded in the CS:GO community—has received very little attention from the legal community. This article addresses the skins-betting phenomenon through the lens of online sports wagering. Part II of this article provides a brief overview of the Esports growth. Part III dives into CS:GO’s bustling “skins” trade, highlighting the avenues spectators can use to wager their skins on CS:GO matches. Part IV then pivots, exploring the ways in which wagering ingame items is synonymous with the traditional elements of gambling. Part V explores three major federal laws used to curb online gambling, most notably sports betting. Part VI assesses the applicability of these three federal gambling laws to in-game item betting. Finally, Part VII addresses a number of current and potential issues with skins betting, ultimately answering why the practice even deserves regulation in the first place. Access full article

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Stability of problematic gaming and associations with problematic gambling: A three-year follow-up study of adolescents in the SALVe-cohort

S. Vadlin, C. Åslund, K.W. Nilsson.

Aim: The aims of the present study was to investigate the long-term stability of problematic gaming among adolescents, and whether problematic gaming at wave 1 (W1) were associated with problematic gambling at wave 2 (W2), three years later.
Methods: Data from the SALVe-Cohort, including adolescents in Västmanland born in 1997 and 1999, at two waves were analyzed (W1, n = 1868; 1035 girls, W2, n = 1576; 914 girls). Adolescents self-rated the Gaming Addiction Identification Test (GAIT), Problematic Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), and gambling frequencies. Stability of gaming using Gamma correlation, and Spearman’s rho was performed. General linear model analysis (GLM), and logistic regression analysis were performed, adjusted for sex, age, and ethnicity using PGSI as dependent variable, and GAIT as independent variable, for investigating associations between problematic gaming and problematic gambling.
Results: Problematic gaming was stable over time, γ = 0.810, P ≤ 0.001, and ρ = 0.555, P ≤ 0.001. Furthermore, problematic gaming at wave 1 increased the probability of having problematic gambling three years later, GLM F = 3.357, η2 = 0.255, P ≤ 0.001, and logistic regression OR = 5.078 (95% CI: 1.388–18.575), P = 0.014. Male sex was associated with higher probability of problematic gambling.
Conclusions: The present study highlights the importance of screening for problematic gambling among problematic gamers in order not to overlook possible coexisting gambling problems. The stability of problematic gaming indicates a need for development and evaluation of treatment for problematic gaming and also for coexisting gambling problems.

Vadlin, S., Åslund, C., & Nilsson, K. W. (2017). Stability of problematic gaming and associations with problematic gambling: A three-year follow-up study of adolescents in the SALVe-cohort. European Psychiatry, 41, S882. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eurpsy.2017.01.1782

An Exploratory Study of the Impacts of Gambling on Affected Others Accessing a Social Service

Jason Landon, Elizabeth Grayson, Amanda Roberts

Problem gambling affects many people beyond the problem gambler themselves. Help-seeking is relatively rare among affected others, especially those in lower socio-economic communities. However, these affected others are sometimes in contact with other support agencies. The present research interviewed 10 people seeking support through a social agency who reported being affected by someone else’s gambling. Data from semi-structured interviews were analysed using an inductive descriptive approach to identify three themes: (1) This is ugly, (2) It affects everything and (3) I just do it by myself. The results highlight the normality of harmful gambling across generations, the lack of any positive aspects to gambling for affected others and the impacts on families and children. Specific gambling-related help-seeking remains rare; however, the opportunity to provide support, information and advice on approaches to coping to affected others as they contact social services is highlighted.

On the feasibility of in-venue observations of EGM gamblers and game characteristics

Jason Landon, Katie Palmer du Preez, Maria Bellringer, Max Abbott, and Amanda Roberts.

Detailed observational studies of undisturbed gambler behaviour in venues are rare, especially if the focus is on continuous gambling such as electronic gaming machines (EGMs). EGMs are the main source of harmful gambling in New Zealand and all EGMs in New Zealand now include a mandatory pop-up message feature. The present study reports on 48 hours of in-situ observations of EGM gamblers in casino and non-casino (pub) venues in New Zealand and sought to establish whether relatively detailed observations of EGM features and gambler behaviour in venues were possible. Pop-up messages were the EGM feature focused on given their harm-minimisation potential, and the relative ease with which they can be observed. However, other EGM features were also documented along with descriptive accounts of associated gambler behaviour. The results establish that relatively detailed (quantitative or qualitative) observational data can be collected in venues using smart phones. The data showed pop-up messages were generally attended to but had little observable effect on gambler behaviour in venues. Direct in-situ observation of gamblers can provide ecologically valid information to compliment more common experimental and survey-based approaches. Some suggestions for developing the procedure are discussed.