Simply put, skin betting is the practice of trying to predict the outcome of an online Esports match, while gambling in-game add-ons with the objective of winning those of other players.
Originally made popular by the CounterStrike:Global Offensive (CS:GO) fanbase, skin gambling markets have since been found for popular games like FIFA and DOTA 2. Players originally acquire skins by achieving set targets in games or by purchasing them through the games online shop using Paypal or a debit card.
Initially, such bets had no monetary value as Steam, the platform upon which you can play CS:GO and store collectable items, didn’t allow players to convert skins back into money. However, a growing number of third-party sites are now offering players this option, which has enabled skin betting to grow rapidly.
But…What are Skins?
While the terms “skin betting” or “skin gambling” derived from the concept’s CS:GO origins, these are now used as umbrella terms for any kind of gambling where in-game items are used as currency.
Skins are collectable visual downloads which gamers can use to change the appearance of their character and/or their weaponry.
In terms of gameplay, the benefits of having one skin over another are purely aesthetic, they don’t improve or decrease a players abilities in any way.
Is it Legal?
As with all types of gambling, skin betting has not risen to prominence without its fair share of controversy.
From a legal standpoint, the main issue has been regarding underage gambling. While the concept of gambling skins is relatively harmless, the aforementioned third-party sites offering real cash withdrawals as well as casino-style games like roulette and heads or tails has seen them come under fire.
Many of the sites offering this kind of skin betting have been hastily launched before acquiring the necessary gambling licenses.
Additionally, the somewhat flimsy or, in some cases, non-existent age verification processes on these sites has led to a large number of under 18 gamblers, which is, of course, illegal. However, as long as you’re of legal gambling age and you use officially licensed sites, skin betting is not deemed illegal.
What Else is There to Know?
Licensing from the UKGC (UK Gambling Commission) is an important component of a safe betting site as it guarantees safe and fair practices like player identification, protection of player funds and honest marketing. Therefore, providing you’re over 18, it’s important to seek information on the licence held by the website before depositing money on to it or buying credits.
As a general rule, if you’re not sure about the legality of a website and you can’t find the necessary information which allays your fears, it’s best to avoid it.