Counter-Strike Should be Classed as Gambling, says Aussie Pol

Posted on: August 1, 2016, 07:30h. 

Last updated on: August 1, 2016, 03:21h.

Xenophon to crack down on skin betting.
Counter-Strike would have a minimum age requirement in Australia under a bill proposed by Senator Nick Xenophon?

Australian Senator Nick Xenophon is a longtime antagonist of the gambling industry and now he has Counter-Strike skin-betting firmly in his sights.

Xenophon announced this week that he intends to introduce a bill to parliament when it resumes next month that would classify games like Counter-Strike as gambling, pure and simple.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald that his legislation would prohibit game makers from charging real money for items of varying value whose acquisition relies on a degree of chance. It would also establish minimum age requirements for those who wish to pay to play, while games would be required to display clear warnings of possible gambling content.

Games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO), around which a billion-dollar gambling industry has grown up through the trading of designer weapons known as “skins,” were “insidious” in their targeting of minors, and the “Wild West” of online gambling, Xenophon said.

“Instead of shooting avatars, parents soon find out that [their children] have shot huge holes through their bank accounts,” he added, neatly.

Too Late, Mate?

But despite his good intentions, it could be that the senator is a couple of years too late. Had Xenophon proposed his legislation in 2013, for example, he might have nipped the nascent skins gambling industry in the bud. Instead, he chose to launch it just weeks after Valve, creators of CS: GO, announced that it was shutting the industry down.

Valve’s skins are colorful and collectible in-game weapons which the company permitted to be traded between players over its Steam platform as a means of creating an in-game economy. But their ability to be transferred to third-party sites enabled them to be used as digital chips in online gambling games. Valve had been accused of encouraging and even profiting from skin gambling.

Valve’s Ultimatum

Eventually, in mid-July, as lawsuits began to fly, the company officially denied it had ever profited from skin gambling, and emphasized that those who had were in violation of its terms and conditions.

It then sent cease-and-desist notices to at least 23 skin betting sites, promising them that their Steam accounts would be terminated if they continued to operate, as it began to dismantle the industry it had inadvertently created. The betting sites need Steam accounts in order to transfer skins and the deletion of their accounts would mean curtains for the industry.

Valve gave the sites a 10-day window to comply, a deadline that expired on July 29. Many sites have appeared to comply with the demand, shutting down “temporarily,” but others still appear to be operating, two days after their ultimatum, presumably awaiting Valve’s next move.