Ever the topic of moral questionability, more restrictions have been placed on streamers as Twitch bans explicitly skin gambling. Since the days of the CSGOLotto betting scandal, where Valve were influenced into putting restrictions on what sites could do using their bots and APIs, we have seen lots of sites adapt to survive as their fellows are struck down.
Case opening sites have sprung up and alternative gambling sites, allowing you to bet money and merely withdraw in CSGO skins. Ways of skirting the rules without catching bans and lawsuits from Valve have gotten more and more creative. CSGO skin gambling still exists, just in an entirely new capacity. One that’s hard for Valve to squash as it exists in a grey area.
When it comes to morally grey areas, the conversations around CSGO are rife with them. One of CSGO’s big problems is that a lot of big sponsors are unwilling to associate because of the realism involved with the game. Companies are willing to collaborate with the likes of Overwatch, Valorant or League of Legends which take place in made-up worlds.
CSGO uses real-world guns, Overwatch and Valorant do not. CSGO handles real-world issues, the opposing forces are ‘terrorist’ and ‘counter-terrorist.’ For a sponsor to associate their brand with a game where players play as a terrorist faction, is a big risk. This makes a big issue for tournament organisers.
The Implications of Wording
The specifics of the restrictions as Twitch bans skin gambling, is a ban on ‘Promotion or Sponsorship’ of the sites. With many figures in the community describing esports as being in a ‘winter’ of sorts, this is bad news. Lots of CSGO events have been able to lean on gambling sponsors.
In 2020, Esports Charts showed that GG.Bet and CSMoney were among the top five sponsors for CSGO and Dota 2 esports. Now, GGBet involves esports betting and CSMoney is a trading site that utilises CSGO skins to take a profit. Will Twitch’s betting policy regarding other gambling tighten? More and more questions arise following Twitch’s ban on skin gambling.
As Valve itself has put more pressure on not just the companies inciting the gambling but the gamblers themselves. There have been more and more concerns, from content creators and community figures. More and more bans have gone out this year. As companies looking to skirt around Valve’s prior cease and desist are catching bans on the Steam accounts linked to their sites. And as per Valve’s new anti-gambling terms of service, gamblers will catch bans for even being associated with the sites being taken down. It’s a scary time to be a bettor if you’re gambling with skins, and with this new ban, there are even fewer ways to expose an audience to it.
What Happens Next?
As Twitch have made their stance on the issue clear, in a vague manner the onus is on the tournament organisers and content creators to make the next move. Do they wilfully submit to Twitch’s ban on skin gambling? Do we find another way to fund the community and events that we hold dear? Is there an alternative? The first thought of many might be the recent streaming service contention.
The likes of the new Kick.com streaming site have been more lenient when it comes to the issues of gambling. Allowing hot tub streaming and betting content to continue with the option to disable its visibility on your profile. This gives the option for a safer browsing experience, for those not of age.
Maybe we can expect a move to an alternative streaming platform for upcoming CSGO and CS2 events. The immediate option that springs to mind would be YouTube. As many events already host streams on YouTube, a total shift wouldn’t be too much of a challenge. For content creators, the quandary is not nearly as complex. If you wish to continue gambling with skins, it’s time to switch platforms.
The Blame Game
The issues around gambling continues to be at the forefront of conversations about the game. It’s something that Valve has made an effort to disassociate from. However, there are two sides to every issue. Valve has caught a lot of flack for allowing it to continue in any capacity. For still having case opening as a feature of its game. But then, as a game with a mature rating, rated at PEGI 18. The expectation is for the user or player to be of age, any younger would be ignoring the age rating and thereby the warning against the content inside.
If you are adhering to the game’s age rating, then you are considered mature enough to be exposed to the violent content included but also to gambling. Perhaps the issue is not necessarily the gambling, but the lack of accountability placed on those allowing underage children to play a mature-rated title.