wager skins that have nothing to do with CS:GO contests. One website runs multiple lottery-style contests per minute, where a player’s odds of winning rise with the value of the skins wagered. Another website operates a similar game that looks like roulette, except that players are paid in skins.
The sites are run independently but use Valve software. Valve employees have given CSGO Lounge technical support, says Courtney Timpson, a Lounge community administrator and spokesman. The Valve logo is prominently displayed on the gambling site, and in one post on its forum, a moderator tells users—especially the “younger audience”—what to do if they think they’ve been scammed: “If something is wrong, don’t post on the forums,” the mod writes. “Contact Valve/steam.”
The growth in skins gambling tracks the popularity of e- sports. Millions of people, especially boys and men under 25, spend their free time watching other young, headset-wearing players furiously type and click their way through online battles. Fans of traditional sports should recognize the basic structure. There are teams, leagues, sponsorships, media deals, and, increasingly, money. Turner Broadcasting and its partners, which didn’t respond to requests for comment, are looking to e-sports to attract an audience that typically isn’t watching much basic cable. They’ve built their strategy around CS:GO.
Skins betting has the potential to undermine the integrity of pro gaming competitions. Last January tech website the Daily Dot broke the news that a CS:GO team named IBUYPOWER threw a match it was heavily favored to win. Players were paid in skins, via CSGO Lounge. Valve contacted CSGO Lounge to ferret out the bad $567 actors, according to Timpson. In the end, Valve banned seven players from events it sponsors and forbade pro players and staff from gambling on matches, associating with highvolume gamblers, or sharing inside information. It didn’t take any public action against the gambling sites.
In the U. S., sports betting is illegal in 46 states. So far, Valve and the skins sites have avoided legal scrutiny. CSGO Lounge tells players to adhere to local gambling laws but does nothing to ensure they do so, and more people visit the site from the U.S. than any other country but Russia. “There’s no doubt that regulators will catch up with them, and
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