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Esports Gambling And Skin Betting: Is It Good Or Bad For The Industry?
Esports gambling has quickly become a big talking point within the video game industry in recent years. Not only has the growth of esports exploded, but so has the opportunity to make profit from within it. There are now many looking to benefit from the esports industry, and one of the biggest growing sectors of the industry is gambling.
Like with traditional gambling, there are a lot of concerns over the damage that could be done to fostering such an industry within esports, but at the same time, there’s a lot to gain in terms of revenue and overall growth.
In this article, we take a look at some of the benefits and risks associated with bringing gambling to esports, and also some of the issues that have so far been unique to esports gambling.
The Potential Benefits Of Esports Gambling
Let’s first talk about the potential benefits from esports gambling. As you’d expect, many of the benefits are related to revenue and financial gain, but this additional revenue could do wonders to the esports industry as a whole.
When we look at traditional sports, it’s clear that there is already a very strong system in place for many different sports leagues – there are self-sustaining billion dollar businesses within football, basketball, tennis, and many other sporting events.
Esports, on the other hand, is only just standing on its two feet. The esports industry has a long way to go before its strong and healthy enough to withstand the test of time without outside investments.
This is where esports betting could help tremendously. With additional revenue coming from esports gambling, money could be put back into the industry to help fuel the industry. There are a variety of cases where esports gambling revenue has been seen to help support the industry. CS:GO is right now the biggest game that has benefited from esports gambling.
In the past, several teams have been sponsored by gambling websites. One such example is NiP’s partnership with Betway. Unfortunately , this type of partnership faced several limitations: an example is Riot’s regulations on not allowing any organization with an LCS team to have a gambling sponsorship. However, other teams that have strictly stuck to CS:GO have had success with picking up gambling sponsorships too, and it doesn’t stop there.
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We have also noticed that several esports betting websites and skin gambling sites, have been responsible for growing the viewership of CS:GO tournaments and events. Some gambling companies have also hosted their own tournaments to promote their brand. These tournaments have provided an opportunity for new teams to get their name on the map.
If careful regulations were placed down, all esports titles could benefit from the gambling industry in the following ways:
- More support for lower-tier tournaments in teams in the form of events.
- Sponsorship deals to help organizations that aren’t constantly winning.
- Gambling has proven to increase esports viewership, which indirectly helps the esports industry grow.
Esports Betting & Skin Gambling: The Risks And Regulations That Must Be Considered
Now that we’ve had a look at the benefits from esports gambling, it’s time to look at the potential risks that are present and the regulations that could be introduced to remove these risks.
One of the biggest issues with the esports gambling industry is the entire skin gambling debacle. For those unaware, skin gambling provides gamers of all ages to bet on esports matches or casino style games for the chance to win big.
The word ‘skins’ refers to cosmetic overhauls, or cosmetic skins for items in games. These items can be opened by playing the games or paying for them through micro-transactions. These skins often have a high real monetary value tied to them because they can be very rare.
Skin gambling isn’t necessarily any different from any other gambling on the surface – people can put skins onto a website and exchange those skins for credits. Those credits can then be spent to gamble, and any winnings can be withdrawn as skins.
When you look deeper into all of the issues surrounding skin gambling, two major problems arise. Firstly, most of these skin gambling sites on the web do not have age gates or ID verification. This may give underage gamers the chance to gamble for real money. Gambling age restrictions are placed on traditional betting sites for a very important reason, but skin gambling websites prey on the young because they sit in a legal grey area.
Because users on skin gambling sites aren’t depositing real money, these websites can claim that their users aren’t actually gambling. Truthfully, real money exchanges happen to get the skins in the first place, and any cashed out skins are then transferred into real money via third party websites. Skin gambling websites for the most part may as well be straight up online casinos.
The second major issue with skin gambling is that they aren’t regulated. A skin gambling website could claim that they have ‘provably fair’ odds on all of their games, but it’s been proven in the past these claims have been false. There are too many examples online that showcase how odds can be adjusted by the website owners and the provably fair odds can be switched on and off on request.
In a nutshell, here are the two major issues with esports skin gambling websites currently.
- Websites known as skin gambling sites exist that give underage gamers the chance to gamble.
- No regulations are set for skin gambling, which makes it easy for odds to be rigged.
How Esports Gambling And Skin Betting Needs To Change
If esports gambling is to stay, a range of regulations need to be brought onboard. Firstly, skin gambling websites need to go. Video game developers that release skins for the games that these skin gambling websites are based on must pursue these websites with cease and desist orders. Companies that allow these websites to stay online without proper regulation should be sued or action should be taken against them.
All future esports gambling websites need to be regulated just like traditional betting websites are. This means that esports gambling sites will definitely need ID verification and will need to be probably fair and officially regulated.
Finally, if skin gambling sites are to stay, the developers for the games the websites are based on need to acknowledge these sites exist and they need to include in their game age rating that their game gives people the opportunity to gamble. Once again, skin gambling websites should be regulated just like all other traditional gambling sites are.
Skin Gambling: Your Opinion Matters!
What are your thoughts on esports and skin gambling? Do you think that there could be a future where esports gambling sits amongst traditional sports betting sites? Let us know!
Understanding Skins Betting
If you’ve never heard the term skins before, then you’ve
come to the right place. Skins are referred to as any digital object in a game
that changes the visual outlook of the player. The skins can be applied to
players themselves or most commonly to their weapons. In this article, we will
be focusing on skins used in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
This is one of most popular games for skin collecting. For those of you who
have never played or seen Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, it is a first-person
shooter game from Valve. First-person shooters are taking the players’ perspective,
so players are only able to see their weapons and hands. (Shown in Image Below).
The fact that you’re unable to see your player in full
view is what makes weapon skins so interesting. In general, these skins do not
enhance a player’s abilities, but are strictly there for aesthetic reasons. So,
consider skins to be like driving a bright yellow Ferrari meant to draw
attention on the player and show how “cool” they are. That’s why the more lavish
skins are often the most popular.
What Kind of Skins
In Global Offensive there are hundreds of skins from the
realistic military paint to the bright pink with skulls on it. Skins were first
created to provide a tactical advantage. This would work like military
camouflage, so you’d often see green for a deep forest or traditional black for
night level. Now, rather unusual skins are more common.
Valve originally didn’t think players would enjoy the
extremely colorful and bold skins, but they seem to be the most popular. The
guns have slowly gone from super realistic to more of paintball gun style with
bold shiny colors. The use of skins now can be compared to the feathers of a
peacock; they are meant to look appealing visually and draw a lot of attention
to the player.
The skins come in a number of different grades. This will
usually help decipher how rare the skin is, thus increasing its value. This is
the list of the grades from most common to rarest.
- Consumer Grade (Common)
- Industrial Grade (Uncommon)
- Mil-Spec Grade (Rare)
- Restricted (Mythical)
- Classified (Legendary)
- Covert (Ancient)
- Gold (Good luck getting one of these)
The skins not only come in different grades, but they
come in different quality levels as well. This is the list of quality levels
from no damage to most damage.
- Factory New (Fresh Paint Job)
- Minimal Wear (Well ya used it a couple times)
- Field-Tested (Definitely a regularly used weapon)
- Well-Worn (Alright well the paint job needs some work)
- Battle-Scarred (Yeah you might want to repaint it)
The skin quality DOES NOT disappear with usage, which is
a common misconception among new collectors. You buy it at a specified quality
level and that’s the way it stays. The skin damage or wear usually adds to the
beauty of the weapon, depending on the design. It’s a matter of preference, but
usually the more warn a weapon is the more valuable it is.
Skins also have a 3rd form of categorization which
is Normal. These are the skins that can be rare, but not from specific
events.The StatTrak weapon allows for you to track how many enemies have been
killed with the weapon. This stat does not transfer over when sold on the
market, so don’t think you can lie about your kill count. Souvenirs come from
esports tournaments. These ones are usually in high demand and are very
valuable. We definitely suggest trying to get a few of these bad boys.
People on these sites value skins like real world
positions. So the value of the object will usually differ from player to player,
but the price always seems to rise for the favorite skins. Skins for the AK, M4s
and AWP are most valuable because they’re shown on high utility weapons. This
all contributes to an economy that fluctuates as different players value
different qualities within a single item. So the most used weapon with an
extremely unique skin are more valuable than a hardly ever used weapon with the
How to Talk the Talk
We wanted to go over some lingo you may come across when
betting for skins. PS or “Play Side” references the side of the knife/skin which
can be seen while in use. Essentially, this is the top of the blade or weapon.
Another term you might run into is BS. BS or “Back Side” refers to the other
side of the knife/skin which can usually be seen when inspecting. This is
commonly known as the flip side of the blade.
Another term you will commonly see when selling is “SS,”
or Screenshot. This indicates that the player selling the object will provide an
in game screen shot of the skin. We don’t recommend purchasing any items without
this screen shot.
Another term you might run into when it comes to
purchasing is mirrored. This means the knife has the same patterns on the play
side and the back side.
How to Get Skins
Skins are like dollars right? They must be earned in the
heat of battle with several hours invested into farming the game. Wrong! Players
can purchase skins from the Steam website or on websites like CSGOShop or my
personal favorite OPSkins. The OPSkins is my favorite due to the generous
discounts you can find.
But if you insist on doing it the old fashion way, you
can log on to the game and hope you can get a rare drop skin. Your chances of
this happening are roughly .5%. Yes, that is a half of a percent. These skins
only drop from crates at that percentage, making it easy to see why rare weapons
are so pricey.
All You Need Is a Skin and a Controller
So, by now I bet your wondering how people make money and
gamble with these skins. Skins are realistically worthless by nature, but can be
compared to a casino chip. They are value holders, so the opportunity to gamble
with skins allows for players to transfer income on esports. Some players do not
invest any initial income. They strictly play the game and let their virtual
winnings (Skins) ride. This can produce more cash or more skins.
The best skins are near impossible to find as stated
earlier. So a lot of players use the gambling ability of skins to get more
skins. Popular gambling options for skins include roulette, wagers on
professional matches, and stock market investing. I don’t prefer stock market
investing since skins prices can be manipulated and do not generate long term
value. Prices have been rather stagnant over the years.
So when we are talking about wagering with skins, the
most common way is roulette. This is extremely similar to what you traditionally
see at a casino. You can bet on red, black or green. When betting red/black,
each have a 48% chance to be correct. So normally this will pay out 2-1. This is
referred to as even money. For example, if you bet $10 and win, you’ll get $20
back in total ($10 from your original bet + $10 in profit. The numbers for red
are 1-7 and the numbers for black are 8-14.
The green is the one that pays the most, but has the
smallest odds to win. This is the longshot. Green is represented by the number
0. The green will usually pay 14 times your bet. So if you bet $10 you will win
$140. The strategies for roulette betting involve pattern watching. If you see
several red in a row, then you might bet black assuming it’s due to come up
next. This strategy is effective for few, but not many. This is because the
roulette wheel is completely random.
The screen shot below shows the average looking CSG:Go
Roulette wheel. The “rolling in” at the top is a countdown to place your bets.
The balance is the current amount of money you can use to wager with. The
increments below allow you to increase the bet by a certain percentage; you also
have the option to bet half or double. The stats provided on the right hand side
show the amount of games played, how many players are online, and how much money
has been won from players. A high percentage of players normally means that the
table is very active and giving good predictable wins.
A simple click of the Red/Green/Black square below will
place a bet of your selected denomination.
The next strategy people engage in is betting the same
color and increasing the bets on a loss. This is referred to in several gambling
strategies as a reverse progressive system. This involves doubling the amount
you just lost in order to win and make back the losses. So if you were to lose a
3rd time you would then double the 2nd bet. For example, lose a $10 bet then bet
$20 then bet$ 40 and so on until you win. This strategy could potentially work,
but you’d have to have a large enough bankroll to keep increasing your bet size.
The most common websites to bet on CSG:Go Roulette:
This is one of the higher end
betting sites. You get $1 dollar in free bets, but you must gamble at $20
This doesn’t offer a deposit match, but is
one of the more popular sites as far as traffic.
There are several different skin wagering opportunities,
but roulette is by far the most common.
esports Match Wagering
The less random and more predictable way to wager
on CSG:Go is by picking individual matches. This is taking a certain team to win
over another team. The reason this is a lot less random is because the odds are
not stacked against the player. Some CSG:Roulette websites do charge up to a 5%
on any winnings. So when wagering on CSG:Go the best wagering is the individual
Now in a standard match up of any betting there will be a
favorite and an underdog. The favorite is the one who will be most likely to win
the match. This is usually set by previous stats or skills the team has over
another team. The favorites usually do not pay as well as underdogs. Underdogs
are the teams that will most likely lose the match. This doesn’t always happen
though. Sometimes the underdogs do win and they usually offer much more enticing
So this leads to our next point which is how to determine
value or pick winners in matches. Now before you place any wager you must do
your research. The research I tend to lean towards is to examine team results in
previous matches. If a team always dominates another team, I am less likely to
bet against them unless it’s for a good reason. Let’s say Team A has won every
previous match against team B, but team A has not won a single match in the last
month. Team B is currently dominating every opponent, having won every match in
the last month.
This is a spot where we would gain value in betting on
team A. “Yes, team A is struggling, but they have never lost a match against
team B.” We noticed that team A usually performs well against team B, so
regardless of their cold streak, we are going to back them.
Let’s consider what would happen if we saw a match where
the teams are evenly matched. Both teams usually split matches, but one team is
clearly playing better going into the match. I will always choose the team in
good form in this type of situation.
Best of Matches
One of the best ways to determine a winner and increase
your chances of being able to show off your shiny new skins is by betting
lengthy matches. When I use the term lengthy matches, I mean Best of Series.
This usually involves teams playing several match ups. I favor these series
since luck is less likely to play a factor. More times than not, the more
talented team wins overall.
That why I always recommend betting on the top team for
series bets. To determine the top team, look at overall rankings. Again, talent
will have more impact than luck. I personally will always look for matches where
the public heavily favors one team. This will create hidden value in the series.
If you notice a ton of wagers coming in on the one team
you wanted to wager on, then I highly recommend checking to make sure betting on
said team still offers value.
Here are the top sites to find information about upcoming
events and wagers:
They are one of the best since it will post team lineups, past results, news, team
statistics and many more things. Any serious bettors will probably find themselves here on
a daily basis.
CSGONuts provides past results of teams, sometimes with more past results then
HLTV. I use this site particularly when it comes to double checking stats and
Understanding the Odds
The most common odds that you will see on betting
websites are the decimal based odds. So if I lose you, just make sure to grab a
calculator. Let’s say Team A has the odds at 2.11 and team B is at 1.81. Betting
on team A with a $10 wager will be $10 x 2.11 = $21.10. That will be your
return. Betting on team B with a $10 wager will be $10 x 1.81 = $18.10. That
will be your return. This includes your $10 initial bet.
So, which team would be the favorite in this situation?
The answer is Team B since they’re paying the lower odds at 1.81. If a team is
set at 1.81 odds this means they have an implied probability of 55%. In simple
terms this means they have a 55% chance of winning. Odds are adjusted according
to where bettors are placing the most money, because bookmakers are always
trying to balance the amount on each side.
By now you’re probably asking yourself, “How are the
probability odds calculated?”
Let me show you:
100 / probability odds = Decimal odds
Example: 100/55 = 1.81
This is how sites determined the odds on team B in our
Most sites offer fixed odds. This means once you place
your bet the odds cannot change. For example, let’s say you bet on a team at
5.00 and then word breaks out that the other team’s best player is unable to
make the match. This causes the odds to go down to 1.50. You will still have the
odds at 5.00 or 5/1, which puts you at a huge advantage. Some websites only
offer what is called active odds, which would be the reverse of fixed odds. So
if the line moves, your odds move with it. This is less desirable.
You may encounter a 1/2 odds in some individual matches
when betting skins. This is where you will be wagering one skin to win two. This
is usually a tactic to avoid direct gambling affiliation.
Selling the Skins
Now after some time you might notice your skin collection
is getting too large or you win some rare skins that you don’t care to hold on
to. You have the option to sell those skins. Get this process started by signing
into your steam account and loading your inventory. Once your inventory is
uploaded you will select your items and set a price. I recommend searching
through the website to see what your skin commonly goes for. Overprice a skin
and it will never sell; underprice a skin and you might get ripped off.
Top Buying/Selling Sites:
Loot market is one of my favorites
since it will do several giveaways, while also offering fair prices from
reputable sellers and buyers. I use this site to do a lot of price
comparison and see where the market is currently at for certain skin
This site comes with its fair share of pros and cons. The best part about
this site is the 10% bonus on every sale. You only earn 10% after you make
several skin sales valuing at $14,000 though. The immediate cash withdrawal
is another one of this site’s most appealing features, but the prices on
this site tend to be a tad high.
OPSkins is one of my favorite sites for browsing since they offer the wear
percentage on the immediate page and give solid suggestions on prices. I
have been able to find some pretty good deals on this site as a result.
They’re also one of the more trustworthy sites, since all sellers must be
verified and are subject to consumer reviews. OPSkins does take 10% from
every sale though. If you become a premium user the deduction is only 5%,
but you must be willing to pay $5.99 a month. I only recommend this if
you’re selling a large amount of skins.
Value of Esports Skin Betting vs. Traditional Esports Betting
Esports have become extremely popular. You can now look forward to watching a number of major tournaments for games like League of Legends (LoL), Dota 2,Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and Call of Duty.
This rise in popularity has also made esports betting more fashionable. Plenty of online bookmakers now offer the chance to gamble on the action.
The two main types and esports gambling include skin betting and traditional betting. Both kinds of wagering have their pros and cons.
But does skin betting or traditional wagering offer more value in terms of payouts?
I’m going to answer this question by discussing the key differences between skin and regular esports betting, along with how each version works.
What Is Skin Betting & How Does It Work?
Video games offer virtual goods that can change the look of your character or weapon. These items are referred to as “skins,” and they have no bearing on your actual gaming performance.
Instead, skins are purely for cosmetic purposes that make your characters and weapons and stand out. Rarer items gain more attention and make you look cooler among gaming friends.
CS:GO is the biggest game in terms of skins. Many players have fun collecting different skins that can change the look of their weapons.
Here’s an example:
- You have a standard “stock” knife.
- You receive a new skin during an item drop.
- You can now apply the skin to your knife.
- The knife’s appearance changes to red-and-black camouflage.
These skins occur naturally in games through item drops. The problem with drops, though, is that you have virtually no chance of getting the rarer items.
This is where skin betting comes in, because it lets you wager one or more items to win another skin that you want.
The obvious benefit here is that you can collect more skins and/or rare items through gambling. But you also have to be careful, because losing means that you also lose whatever items you’re risking
Getting started with skin betting isn’t difficult. Many third-party sites have sprung up to meet the demand for this style of wagering.
For example, the Valve Corporation (CS:GO creator) operates the Steam marketplace, which holds inventories for weapons and Steam credits.
Steam can also be interfaced by third-parties, which is where the betting takes place. You transfer your items from Steam to another site, where they’re held for wagering purposes.
Valve doesn’t approve gambling action taking place at these third-party sites. But they also haven’t taken drastic steps to block the sites either.
As for using skin betting sites, you can follow the steps below to get started:
- “Deposit” items at the skin gambling site by transferring them.
- You can gamble your skins on esports matches, coin flips, lotteries, and casino-style games.
- If you win, you’ll receive an item(s) from a losing participant(s).
- You can “withdraw” your skin by transferring it back to the marketplace (i.e. Steam).
The games that you wager your skins on are akin to casino gambling.
For example, roulette sees you risk one or more items to occupy a certain percentage of the wheel. The more items/rarer skins you bet, the larger your space on the wheel will be.
Any skins that you win can be used to:
- Change the appearance of your character or weapon.
- Trade with other gamers.
- Sell on the marketplace for an on-site currency (i.e. Steam credits) that can be used to purchase other skins.
- Sell skins for real money on third-party sites.
- Held in your marketplace account for future use.
Value of Skin Betting
Skins are interesting in that they have both monetary and intrinsic value. The latter refers to how a certain skin can be worth more to you than it’s worth on the marketplace.
If you’ve been trying to get a special item for your Dota 2 character, for example, you may value this skin far more than the next person.
Skins have monetary value when considering that you can sell them for real money on third-party sites.
During the peak of skin betting a few years ago, some of the rarest CS:GO items were going for thousands of dollars. This isn’t as common today, but you can still earn decent money by selling your skins.
Wagering skins is exciting from the perspective that you can earn profits by winning casino-style games and later selling the items
But as mentioned earlier, you also have to risk your skins in order to play. Losing means that your items are gone and you’ll no longerbe able to sell them.
Another aspect worth mentioning is that you may have to buy items from the marketplace before you can participate in the gambling aspect.
Game drops don’t happen very often during matches – especially drops involving special skins. This is why you may simply choose to buy items from a marketplace, rather than waiting for a drop.
You can see that skins obviously have some value. But it can be difficult to assess how much they’re actually worth when many players just want to change the look of their characters/weapons.
How Does Traditional Esports Betting Work?
Esports betting involves wagering actual money on a given outcome. Bookmakers act as a middleman in these bets, accepting action on both sides while taking a small cut (a.k.a. juice) for their service.
Bookmakers handicap matches in order to make all outcomes of a bet worth considering. Handicapping leads to the perceived favorite offering less value, and the underdog offering more value.
Here’s an example:
- You’re betting on CS:GO.
- Ghost is the favorite with 1.5 odds.
- You’d win $1.50 ($0.50 profit) for every dollar wagered on Ghost.
- Kinguin is the underdog with 2.5 odds.
- You’d win $2.50 ($1.50 profit) for each dollar wagered on Kinguin.
A betting site wants to draw equal action on all outcomes. Doing so guarantees the bookmaker a profit when the juice is factored in.
If you’ve ever wagered on sports, then you’ll find esports betting to be very similar. But if you’re new to sports betting in general, then it’s important to understand the odds and different types of wagers.
The three main types of odds include American, decimal, and fractional. You can see an example of each below:
- American – Indicates how much you need to bet to win $100 (favorite), or how much you’d win after betting $100 (underdog.) The favorite is indicated by a plus sign, while the underdog features a minus sign.
- Decimal – Indicates how much you’d win in terms of profit and stake. Ex: 1.70 decimal odds mean that you can win $1.70 ($0.70 profit + $1 stake) for each dollar wagered.
- Fractional – Separated by a forward slash to show how much you can win (left side) and how much you’re risking (right side). Ex: 3/2 fractional odds mean that you can win $3 in profit for every $2 bet.
Although each type of odds are expressed differently, they all work to indicate value for favorites and underdogs. If you have any difficulty converting odds (e.g. decimal to American), note that you can find plenty of helpful calculators on the internet.
The main types of esports bets include moneylines, point spreads, totals, and live bets. Here’s a brief description of each wager:
- Moneyline – Straight-up bet on which team will win a match. Odds are used to even out betting action between the favorite and underdog.
- Point spread – Favorite must cover a certain amount of points, while the underdog is spotted points. Ex: ETHEREAL’s point spread is -2.5, meaning they must win by 3 points or more. G2’s spread is +2.5, meaning they must lose by 2 points or less.
- Totals – Line on combined score total for a match. You must predict whether the teams’ combined score will be under or over the given line (e.g. over/under 27.5).
- Live betting – Bets that are offered while a match is live.
If you’re initially overwhelmed with esports betting, note that moneyline wagers with decimal odds are the most common. I suggest starting out with these bets/odds and branching out from here.
Getting started with traditional esports wagering is similar to skin betting. But there are a few nuances, which you can see in the following steps:
- Visit the banking section of an esports site.
- Verify that the bookmaker offers a banking option you can use.
- Use the chosen banking method to place a deposit.
- Visit the betting section and look at available lines.
- Place a wager, entering the desired amount that you wish to risk.
Winning bets will be added to your account balance, while losing wagers are deducted.
Esports Betting Has Monetary Value
It’s not hard to quantify the value of traditional esports betting. You bet and lose money, meaning there’s a direct monetary value attached.
Regular esports wagering feels riskier than skin betting, because there’s actual money involved. But the positive side is that, unlike skin betting, you remain consciously aware of what you’re risking.
This isn’t like wagering skins, where your mind may temporarily disband reality and think of an item’svalue from a pure video game perspective. Instead, you can see exactly how much you stand to win or lose with each wager.
Another good thing about traditional betting is that you don’t have to go through multiple layers to earn money. Instead, every wager is measured in terms of dollars (or another currency).
Contrast this to skin betting, where you need to sell your items on the open market before converting them into cash.
Comparing the Value of Skin and Traditional Betting
A normal esports bet is a known quantity that you can measure. The site lists your exact wager, and you use this amount to figure out how much you stand to win.
Here’s an example:
- You bet on BFrogs at +200.
- You can win $200 for every $100 wagered on BFrogs (2:1 ratio).
- You wager $20 on them.
- You stand to win $40.
Simply put, esports betting allows you to quickly figure out what’s at risk.
Skin betting is more convoluted in nature. Your items have value, but it’s not always easy to put a dollar value on them.
The marketplace will go a long ways towards how much you can sell any given item for. But you may get different pricing depending upon the site/user you’re dealing with.
Some players don’t worry about what they can sell skins for. Instead, they’re simply interested in making their characters and weapons look as unique as possible.
In these cases, a skin’s primary value is entertainment. A player may be willing to gamble or pay a lot to acquire a specific item, even if they don’t plan to sell it.
Skin gambling is more versatile in terms of value than regular esports betting. Each item can be measured in terms of a monetary amount or intrinsic value.
Esports bets, on the other hand, can only be viewed with regard to money. You can’t convert your winnings into cool video game attribute via a bookmaker.
Your personal tastes will go a long ways towards determining whether you think esports betting or skin gambling has more value.
All things being equal, I’d rather win an esports bet. I don’t have to think about how much my win is worth, because the payout is clearly listed afterward.
In contrast, the value of each skin can vary based on where you’re selling it, the buyer, and its uniqueness. I don’t like worrying about converting my skin to real money after a win.
But your view could be totally different than mine. You may not like the lack of options regarding esports betting payouts.
Skins differ since they can be traded to other players, sold on the open market, wagered again, or simply kept in your inventory.
Of course, the entertainment value of skin betting and esports wagering also plays an important part.
Esports bets are fun, because you can wager on a match and watch the action unfold later through a livestream. Skin betting is exciting on two fronts, because you get to play a cool game (e.g. roulette) and use the “winnings” to change your character’s appearance.
You aren’t right or wrong in choosing one style of betting over the other. Everything will come down to what you find more entertaining.
But if you’re on the fence, then I encourage you to try both skin gambling and esports betting. You may even find that you like them equally.
Skin Betting: Sites, Markets And Is It Legal?
The Steam games platform, owned and operated by Valve, offers a marketplace to its players where they can earn in-game items or even digital trading cards that all have a monetary value. This value varies, depending on the rarity of the item or card.
In esport titles like CS:GO and Dota 2, these items are often in-game cosmetic “skins” which alter the look of your weapon. You can earn these skins by paying to open loot boxes or by receiving additional in-game drops. Let’s run through the ins and outs of skin betting, including why punters place skin bets and whether you can legally place bets using esports skins.
What is skin betting?
Skin betting is much like regular esports betting, but in-game items —frequently referred to as skins— are used as currency instead of money. Aside from this difference, skin betting bears much resemblance to the real-money betting that we all know and love.
Typically carried out with skins from popular esports titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2, these items can include weapon camouflages. These esports titles, as well as others such as PUBG, list the value of each skin in an inventory system, which gives players and esports fans an incentive to collect them. The rarer the item, the higher its value.
You put your skins on the line, betting them on a particular elements of a game, be that a match win, series win, or even first blood, with the chance of winning virtual currency. Of course, exactly how much you win is dependent on the given odds, which can vary between esports betting sites.
History of Skin Betting
Skin betting became popular in 2020, when it became possible to trade skins in CS:GO, but it wasn’t until almost two years later that it became available at a wide range of sites.
Part of the reason skin betting became so popular is that it’s so easy. Betting with skins means that bettors didn’t need to provide any sensitive information such as bank card details. The only thing needed was your steam URL.
The absence of real money meant that skin betting isn’t perceived as traditional gambling – even though skins were being placed on the line in place of cash. As such, there are no restrictions on skin betting. It’s available worldwide, even in areas where real money gambling is illegal. Unfortunately, as an unregulated form of gambling, this also means that safety measures aren’t. So while it’s easily accessible, even to underage bettors, there’s no governing body to protect bettors and ensure their safety. Valve has since cracked down on skin betting in an attempt to make it a safer activity for all involved.
For those who are 18+, there are an array of real-money esports betting sites available for both CS:GO, Dota 2 and others.
Why place skin bets?
Much like traditional esports betting, there are two main factors that go into skin betting. The first is the potential monetary gain- you stand to win a proportionate amount of skins based on the odds of your bet, if you predict the correct outcome. The second reason many esports fans place skin bets is simply because it’s fun. Placing your skins on the line adds another dimension to the game you’re watching. Suddenly, the competitors aren’t the only ones with something on the line. You have something valuable riding on a certain result and could well end up winning a skin that you didn’t have before.
Skin Betting Variations
Skin betting functions in a very similar way to esports betting in terms of the markets available to punters. The main difference, however, is that bettors are betting against other players, rather than a bookie.
There are two types of skin betting: match betting and gambling. Let’s take a look at what these involve:
Match betting is the act of betting your skins on the result of a match You’ll pair up against another bettor who’s willing to bet on a different outcome. If you predict correctly, then you gain the item that was put up by the other person, and vice versa.
There are a number of different elements to gambling in skin betting, including roulette, crash, tradeup and hilo. So what’s the difference?
Jackpot and roulette betting are entirely different to match betting. Rather than choosing who to place their money on, each jackpot betting participant buys tickets for a raffle using skins. The more skins you risk, the more tickets you get. In contrast, roulette bettors wager skins on roulette outcomes instead of raffle tickets. Betting a high number of skins, for example, grants you a better probability of winning.
Crash is a program that allows you to place a bet which then constantly moves up in what return it will give you, but the program can crash at any given time- and this happens more often than you might think. This means the player has to choose when to cash out before the program crashes, trying to get the best return rate possible. The higher the rate, the more skins or coins you can receive.
Tradeup is where you deposit ten regular skins in return for one skin and hope that the skin you get is of a higher value than the ten you gave.
Hilo requires punters to place a bet on whether the next card revealed will be higher or lower than the card currently revealed. The return will vary depending on the card that is currently visible.
How do I place a skin bet?
- Choose an esports bookie. Like with all types of betting available, you need to be happy with the platform you choose to use your hard-earned cash (or, well, items) with. Make sure you choose a secure bookmaker with a good reputation before signing up with personal details or depositing any items.
- Sign Up. Once you’ve selected a bookmaker you like the look of, you need to sign up to their website. You can choose a bookie from our thorough list and sign up in minutes. It can be as easy as entering your appropriate personal details and submitting them – things happen quickly from there.
- Deposit. Now you need to deposit items from your inventory. Typically in skin betting, a platform such as Steam is involved. In this example, Steam has a marketplace in which players and bettors can deposit money to then buy in-game items. Once you’ve done this, you make them available for betting on your chosen website.
- Place your bets. Next, you need to choose which kind of skin betting you want to partake in – luckily, we explain the main types a bit later on this page! From there though, simply gamble with items that you’d be comfortable losing, and make sure you’re as educated as you can be before betting on the outcome of an esports match, series, or tournament. Good luck!
At some skin betting sites, you’ll be able to make cash withdrawals for your bets- these are typically made in Bitcoin. However, you’ll also be able to withdraw your skin betting winnings by making purchases in the site’s marketplace. Here you’ll find myriad skins that you can purchase using the on-site currency you’ve earned and can be transferred to your steam account.
Skin Betting Sites
Given the unregulated nature of skins betting, as well as its questionable ethics, we recommend using any of these real-money betting sites for esports enthusiasts. We will add skins betting sites as and when they become regulated
Want to get involved in some esports betting action? The best sites will continually offer comprehensive coverage of the big upcoming tournaments, like IEM, The International and many other majors. Here are some of the upcoming matches available for real money esports betting.
Skin Betting Tournament List
- Dreamhack Stockholm (several games, including Astralis vs TyLoo and Heroic vs Optic Gaming)
- ESL Brazil
- ESEA League
- Summer CIS
Skin Betting FAQ
Q) What skins can you use to bet?
A) You’ll be able to bet with skins from big titles, like Dota 2 or CS:GO at most skin betting sites. However, you’ll be able to bet on more obscure games like H1Z1 from time to time.
Q) What is the most expensive skin?
A) The value of skins will fluctuate, but you can count on Steam to keep you up to date on the most expensive skin at any given time. The most expensive current CS:GO skins are the StatTrak Flip knife Scorched (Battle-Scarred) and Stiletto knife Bright Water (Battle-Scarred), both on sale for almost $2000. Whether anyone would buy them for that is a different matter. Karambit, Dragon Lore and Doppler skins are also some the most expensive skins, ranging around the value of several hundred dollars.
Q) Is skin betting legal?
A) Technically, yes, as it doesn’t fall under the category of traditional gambling. However, there is currently very little regulation around this type of betting which means it’s not always safe. In the past there have been problems regarding rigged odds and underage gambling that meant teenagers found themselves in thousands of dollars worth of debt. In light of these issues, Valve was ordered to intervene. The developer doesn’t endorse the use of third-party betting sites itself, but said it would take steps to discourage esports fans from using skins as virtual currency for betting. Skin betting regulation is yet to be developed, which means punters should be extremely cautious if they do wish to participate.
Q) What are VGO skins?
A) VGO skins are digital items that are created using blockchain technology, they’re effectively cryptocurrency for use in skin betting and are widely accepted across skin betting sites. These are typically virtual CS:GO skins and each have a unique code, which cannot be deleted or duplicated.
To Eliminate Match-Fixing In Esports, Pay The Players More
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Spend an afternoon at a Top 8 Finals of any fighting game tournament, and you will find there is a robust side-betting culture in esports. Pseudo-gambling activities like “skin wagers” in Counter-Strike have been a part of esports culture from the beginning, and fringe sites like XLBet have included StarCraft games next to MLB games. But widespread casual betting like there is on traditional sports hasn’t come to esports yet. That could all change with the recent Supreme Court decision overturning America’s ban on sports gambling—New Jersey’s bizarre ban on esports betting notwithstanding.
Teams in games like Counter-Strike (like Ninjas in Pyjamas) are already sponsored by websites like Betway and Bet365 , and legalization could be just what is needed to take the negative stigma off of esports betting and open the industry to more suitors in America, where leagues like Overwatch League and the League of Legends Championship Series have prohibited teams from courting betting websites as team sponsors. The potential implications for the industry are huge, and not just because of the vast amounts of money that might be wagered on esports on a daily basis.
Gambling and competitive enterprises have always had tense relationships. Despite the fact that the National Football League officials like former security Milt Aherlich have described the potential public relations hits from gambling scandals as “the hydrogen bomb of the league,” the NFL and its absurd multi-billion dollar revenues would not be possible without the robust gambling world that surrounds the game of football.
The potentially enormous amount of money that could pour into esports as a result is both an exciting and scary prospect for those in the esports world. It’s not just the cash that would be wagered—lucrative sponsorships from gambling portals could lift up events ranging from Overwatch League to major fighting game tournaments and everything in between. Estimates of the size of the legal sports gambling industry in America range check in at at least $67 billion ; if esports gambling turns out to be even a fraction of that size, it would be a monumental shift in professional competitive gaming.
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Esports is ripe for a huge variety of wagers beyond just simple point spreads or over-unders. DraftKings already offers fantasy bets on League of Legends. Online gambling sites that cater to bettors who live in places where it’s legal have added esports contests in recent years for games with well-established competitive scenes, like League of Legends and Counter-Strike. Additionally, games like League or DotA could add wagering into spectator modes and take advantage of the lightning quick nature of esports, in which many games — and thus many potential wagering opportunities — are completed in the course of just a few hours.
The rapid ascendancy of the MOBA in American esports, the rise of college esports scholarship programs, and the Overwatch League have all added to the status of esports as A Thing to Watch. Major league sports owners like Robert Kraft have purchased esports teams, Morgan Stanley is writing reports on them, and ESPN is perpetually just about to dip another toe in the esports pool. The esports industry — and an “industry” is absolutely what it has become, for good and ill — is churning along, and if we trust Morgan Stanley’s calculations, it could be worth 1.5 billion dollars by 2020 as it emulates “the business models of major league sports, complete with sponsorships, advertising, media rights, ticket sales, and merchandise.”
But, there’s that hydrogen bomb thing. Major American sports have somehow only had the one certainly fixed major championship—the 1919 Black Sox scandal. But the possibility that that represents has haunted the sports world since, and dictated a century of decisions. Another scandal like this, the logic went, would irreparably destroy fan confidence in the integrity of competition. As professional sports became more and more mainstream, any connection to the seedy underbelly of gambling (and in turn its frequent connections to organized crime) also threatened to blow up the extremely lucrative relationships sports leagues and teams had built with governments, sponsors, and broadcasters. Even if the role gambling had in building these leagues’ popularity was undeniable, the leagues couldn’t even acknowledge, much less throw institutional support behind gambling.
Esports has already had its own major match-fixing scandals, mostly in Korea, where StarCraft is a national institution and legalized betting is already a part of the esports scene. Lee “Life” Seung Hyun, a 10-time StarCraft 2 champion, received the equivalent of $60,000 to throw two matches in 2020 . His winnings across the entire year of competition, throughout which he was one of the game’s top players, totaled $110,000. He made over half that across just two matches. And just this March, a StarCraft: Remastered player was arrested for taking a roughly $4,000 bribe to throw a quarterfinal set at an exhibition tournament held by G-STAR in late 2020. His winnings for placing in the 17th-22nd portion of the bracket earned him just $280. The calculus here is clear.
American sports history is an ideal model for what actually fuels the kind of sport-destroying scandal Aherlich and other pro sports figureheads have been concerned about since the very beginning. And that history makes it clear that the animating question shouldn’t be, “Will gambling destroy esports?” It should be, “Will players be given enough of these new profits that they aren’t given incentives to throw?”
In every gambling scandal in early American sports history, the connective thread is that the players in question were given enough money that the decision not to fix games — or even, in one case, to merely associate with gamblers — was a financial no-brainer for the athletes. Black Sox players were offered five-figure sums at a time when the reserve clause made it impossible to secure a raise, even at a superstar level. Star Detroit Lions lineman Alex Karras (who may be better known for his illustrious acting career ) was forced to sell his stake in a Detroit bar because it was connected to known gamblers. He told Dan Moldea, author of the 1989 book Interference: How Organized Crime Influences Professional Football:
“The NFL asked me to leave the bar because of the unsavory characters who walked into the bar. I said, ‘Fine, I’ll do that, just as long as you don’t let the unsavory characters come into the stadium.’ The NFL did not reply to that. I never worried about whether the league gave me permission or not. I was making nine thousand dollars a year playing football and eighteen thousand with the bar. It didn’t make much sense to leave the bar to go play football.”
The dynamics haven’t really changed today. Match-fixing scandals simply do not appear in top-level professional sports since the advent of free agency — players negotiating their own salaries — in the 1970s and 1980s. Allowed to negotiate on an open market, player salaries swiftly ballooned to six-and-seven figure sums, and all of a sudden, it was impossible for any enterprising con man to find an athlete willing to go along with his match-fixing schemes. Even for a minimum salary NFL player, who is going to compete with $400,000 yearly, plus union benefits? Instead, the kind of match-fixing scams that dominate contemporary headlines are in third or fourth-division soccer leagues overseas , tennis matches involving players ranked outside the top 100 in the world , or mid-to-low-major NCAA basketball teams . What’s in common here? All of these athletes, just like Life, are good enough to turn their talent into profit, but none are great enough to turn it into a sustainable career, and for them, there is simply not enough to lose to disincentive match fixing.
It’s obvious enough, but rarely said that pro sports work as discrete industries because they offer opportunities to their players that those players can’t or probably won’t get elsewhere. (That, and their federally protected monopolies.) Thousands of high school and college students play football for the enjoyment of the game, of course, just as I might boot up Rainbow Six: Siege to kill some time on a quiet night or to hang out with my friends. But thousands more continue playing because they know that they have a shot at making a livelihood out of the game itself. Before the endorsement deals, broadcasting rights, merchandising, and the rest, pro sports offer the one thing that anyone needs to put years of their life into one hyper-specific bucket: the promise of even a potential salary. Not the jackpot of an endorsement, mind you, but a predictable check and a stable career.
This isn’t going to be as big of an issue for an entity like Overwatch League, in which teams are bankrolled by multi-millionaires (the entry fee was $20 million) and lucrative sponsorships from the likes of Intel and HP and are able to sustain minimum salaries of $50,000 a year, with benefits, as a result . Similarly, League of Legends players in the North American League Championship Series (LCS) average $320,000 salaries , much of which can be attributed to the huge franchising fees recently instituted in LCS. But for esports gambling to grow, it needs games, and there’s no reason why anything from Dragonball FighterZ to StarCraft to Rocket League to NBA 2K should be exempt. Fighting games, as an example, offer substantial betting opportunities, with triple-digit entrant major tournaments for many games happening seemingly every weekend.
Everybody understands that at esports’s grassroots levels, people from the players to the organizers to the viewers are taking time out of their lives and, at best, breaking even to put on a show for a community. But when gaming moves from avocation to vocation, from hobby to work, or even when the lines start to blur, it becomes impossible to ignore the kind of calculation somebody like Sky might make. When one thrown match can reap the same spoils as 20 tournaments — and the days grinding in-between them, with no guarantee of a payout unless you’re on your best form and/or getting the RNG in your favor — where is the incentive to say no? Why care about a ban when the payday might be more than you might make in the rest of your competitive life?
As long as esports continues to draw more and more eyeballs and competitors, a robust betting scene seems inevitable. Besides the fact that there’s too much money in it, there’s also too much interest. Sports went through these growing pains 100 years ago and has a clear lesson to offer esports. If esports organizations want to avoid the legal issues and the embarrassment that can come with gambling scandals, the path is clear: Pay the players, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
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