Australia’s Growing Problem with Video Game Gambling

Studies have shown that Australians gamble on casino games more than anybody else per capita. And now it looks like some of the country’s millennials could be facing a new obsession in the form of Counter-Strike gambling.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) – a popular first-person shooter game – allows players to win “skins” by beating online opponents. These skins can then be used to gamble on blackjack, roulette and more at third-party websites.

Much like casino chips, skins have different values that range from as little as a dollar up to $2,000. And there have been cases of teenagers stealing their parents’ credit cards to obtain these skins through CS:CO.

“[I] bet all my money on skins, I was that much into it, then it started getting bad,” said Jordan Bruce, an 18-year-old from Brisbane. “I just had that urge. I hated it and I hated myself after it, but at the time I just thought ‘I won’t get caught.'”

His father, Andrew Bruce, couldn’t believe when he found out that Jordan had blown $1,800 on the game.

“I was horrified that there had been so much money spent on a service, that up until that time, I didn’t know about,” said Andrew.

Nason Pybus, an 18-year-old friend of Jordan Bruce’s, actually did quite well in winning skins and turning them into real money. But he stopped playing when the stakes became unreal.

“It was actually quite surreal that I’d have these skins in game but I was making quite a bit of money off them. It didn’t seem like the stakes were high, but they were,” said Pybus.

Rahul Sood, who founded the popular eSports gambling betting website Unikrn, told ABC News Australia that he’s worried about how easily kids can gamble through skins exchanges.

“It’s just so easy to do and because there’s no oversight and no regulation, there are sites from all over the world that are accepting bets and nobody seems to care,” said Sood.

The rules that do exist aren’t updated enough to deal with online CS:GO betting.

“The regulation for internet gambling was actually created before Facebook even existed,” said Dr. Sally Gainsbury, an online gaming expert from Southern Cross University.

Gainsbury added that politicians have looked into updating online gaming laws, but they haven’t put any effort into video game gambling.

“There’s very little effort being put into updating the internet gambling regulation. It’s unlikely that anything will be done about it any time soon.” said Gainsbury.

The country’s Department of Communications states that online gambling is supposed to be outlawed by the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. But the same law also states that skill-based video games don’t fall under the gambling category.

If there continues to be a problem with underage gambling, though, it’s very possible that Australia could look to adjust this in the future.