In a poignant blog post about skin betting on Unikrn published yesterday, co-founder and CEO, Rahul Sood, has highlighted what’s wrong in esports betting, especially in regards to underage gambling and top Twitch streamers who are wagering in-game virtual items that have real monetary value.
According to Eilers Research skin betting is close to $5bn (£3.4bn) in terms of money wagered in 2016. In 2015 it estimated it at around $800m (£556m).
With such huge amounts being gambled and such rapid growth, it’s clearly time to take a look at regulatory practices within the somewhat murky waters of skin betting, and Sood is at the forefront calling for increased regulation.
Sood highlights one key problem in that some incredibly popular Twitch streamers are live streaming their skins gambling and the site has no 18 and over gateway in place, nor a separate gambling category. He references a widely discussed Reddit post in which ‘BackyZoo’ gives the example of streamer ‘Phantomlord’ who the poster states should be stopped from streaming “when he’s never actually playing the game.”
Moreover, Sood states, many of these streamers are being supplied skins free of charge by unregulated betting sites which wholly distorts the integrity of the experience they’re broadcasting because they’re playing risk free.
Sood also points to his own personal experience of his 13 year old son discussing skin betting with his friends, and part of the reason he wants to stamp out underage gambling and bring about regulation across the board.
Unikrn itself has a global partnership with Tabcorp, and licences in the Isle of Man and Australia with more to follow.
In his own words Sood states: “In other words, I don’t think betting should be illegal, but I do think it should be highly regulated. No shady operators whatsoever, and legit operators need licenses to run such operations. Responsible and safe gambling should be their top priority. Underage gambling is a complete non-starter and should be shut down.”
He continued: “This is no joke folks. I think it’s an absolute must that all sports betting be legalized and regulated in all markets globally, especially the US. Not just because it’s happening anyways, but without regulation in eSports this activity is only going to get worse.”
Sood’s stance that sports betting should be legalised is shared by the Commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver, who has openly called for its legalisation in the past. It is estimated that illegal sports betting in the States is valued at anywhere between $80bn (£55.5bn) to $380bn (£263.7bn) annually, and naturally there’s no way of tracking or regulating the operators or those that are potentially being preyed upon.
The Unikrn CEO has made his position on the matter clear, and you can read his article in full here.