Betting is becoming more and more popular as a hobby, but people who are interested in it often have concerns as well. With the rapid explosion of esports betting in particular, it’s no wonder that illegal esports betting is also on the rise. In 2018, in the Asian market, some $400 billion USD were made by illegal betting. There have been some recent incidents where illegal or unlicensed betting sites have made headlines.
It’s not always a scam but it can be – and when you bet with an unlicensed provider, there is little to nothing you can do to get your money back. It’s one of the biggest risks in this kind of gambling. With any sort of betting, losing the money you bet is always a risk – and often a reality. Of course, making smart bets, analyzing the info you have, and informing yourself about what you’re betting on can help you make the optimal choice.
Another thing to consider is currency – specifically, crypto-currency. Due to its anonymized transactions, cryptocurrency has gotten a bad reputation. This isn’t really justified – as long as you stick to a licensed site, crypto esports betting is as safe as any other kind. It protects you from bank fraud, even – if you don’t link a bank account to a betting site, then no money can be stolen from your bank account.
Betting with unlicensed providers
There is an incredible number of betting sites online, both for esports and traditional sports, and not all of them are legitimate, or safe to use. One of the best indicators if they are or not a safe betting site is whether or not has an official betting license. These licenses are given by the government of the country the site is based in and certify that the betting operator is a proper business, paying taxes and obeying the law.
Unlicensed sites don’t always bother with age verification, for example – in other words, they might try to target kids, scam them out of their information or entice them to gamble illegally. This isn’t always the case – in one recent example, an unlicensed betting app operated on an invite-only policy where users had to get a direct personal invite from a content creator to gamble – on their own game, rather than an esports match that’s streamed. It’s a novel concept, but it’s still unlicensed gambling.
The best esports betting sites will always display their information on their website. Of course, it’s much better to check with your local government for whether or not a site is registered. The UK and Australia maintain official lists of licensed gambling sites in the official websites of their regulatory bodies: the UK Gambling Commision and the ACMA.
Fraud & match-fixing
This is probably the biggest concern for a lot of would-be betters. Identity theft is a common problem on the internet, and thanks to illegal and scam betting sites, it’s a fairly big risk. Thankfully, avoiding it isn’t altogether that difficult. Most cases of identity or bank fraud via identity theft happen not because a legitimate site is compromised, but because users enter their info on a scam site.
The solution: Be very selective about where you bet. Safe betting sites will always have positive reviews up – something like this Unikrn review. Be on the lookout also for sites that demand info they don’t actually need, such as your social security number.
Match-fixing and cheating are harder to avoid – the best ways to stay safe here is to bet on larger events that have their own regulatory bodies. CS:GO, Overwatch and the like actively track accusations of match-fixing and cheating, and punish those involved.
Gambling with skins
Gambling can be done with more than just money. Game with variable inventories such as, famously, CS:GO, can use the skins you get and buy in-game for gambling. You can bet your skin, and if you win, receive a better one back. While that can work, a lot of those sites have been proven to be a scam as well… and additionally, these sites tend to be unregulated.
A survey done by the UK Gambling Commission found that some 8.5% of people they asked had bet on esports before… and of those, 90% had gambled using skins and items. Betting with things other than money can be a bit of a grey area – the rules that apply are a bit different, and it was an easy way to bypass things like age verification, bank account connections, and more.
The appeal is obvious – and yet the dangers of being scammed are infinitely bigger as well. It’s quite easy for a site to shut down, to just keep users’ skins, or even for Steam to punish players by suspending their Steam accounts. While safe betting sites don’t offer skin betting here are some of the best alternatives to skin betting.