Australian Teenagers Engage in Online Gambling over CS:GO Weapons
Australian video game players are gambling virtual weapons that have real world value and officials say the practice is “getting out of control”. Furthermore, experts told ABC that nothing is being done to stop the practice, which sometimes involves underage gamers.
The game being played is Counter Strike Global Offensive (CS:GO), a first person shooter which is popular throughout the world. The virtual weapons are called “skins“, which are known to have a real world value. Players of any age are able to win and collect skins.
Skins Bet on Blackjack and Roulette
Hundreds of websites exist which take skins as credits for casino games. The games being played include blackjack and roulette. Some sites even allow skins to be wagered on the results of an RNG coin flip.
The skins begin wagered have value, based on their rarity. Some skins cost no more than a few cents, while others cost as much as $2,000. Players can cash out skins anytime, or use them to play in the Counter Strike: Global Offensive game.
A Teen Who Stole a Credit Card
The practice is starting to veer out of control, if ABC’s investigations are correct. One teenager stole his parents’ credit card and used it to gamble away thousands of dollars worth of skins.
ABC spoke to one 18-year old game enthusiast from Brisbane named Jordan Bruce. Jordan said he played CS:GO for a year before he got into the gambling aspect of the skins game. When he did, he became a gambling addict.
One Teen’s Problem Gambling
Jordan Bruce began by making small bets with friends. Then, the gambling began to spiral out of control. The young Mr. Bruce said, “[I] bet all my money on skins, I was that much into it, then it started getting bad.”
To feed the habit, he stole his father’s credit card, ultimately charging $1,800 on the card. When asked about the though process he went through, Jordan said, “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’.”
Concerned Father Expresses Horror
Jordan’s father, Andrew Bruce, noticed on his credit card statement charges he knew nothing about. After learning a bit about the service, he confronted his son with the charges.
The idea that youths were not only allowed, but encouraged, to gamble so much money astounded Andrew Bruce. When ABC talked to Mr. Bruce, he said, “I was horrified that there had been so much money spent on a service, that up until that time, I didn’t know about.”
Surreal Nature of Money Being Bet
The trend goes beyond one extraordinary story. Nason Pybus, an 18-year old from Sydney, had a more common reaction. He and friends gambled on CS:GO skins for a time, but he cashed out when he realized how high the stakes were. Pybus said he did not immediately grasp how big the bets were, but it dawned on him at a point.
Nason Pybus told ABC, “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.”
YouTube and Twitch Contribute to the Problem
Jordan Bruce said that video game broadcasting convinces many Australian teens to play. Videos of Counter Strike: Global Offensive get hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube and Twitch. Those videos act as a kind of advertisement for skins.
Jordan Bruce told ABC that seeing the video exploits of online personalities convinces many youths and young adults to get involved. He said, “Seeing how much they go in, how much they got out of it and just wanting to be like that.”
The Stench of Celebrity
I once watched a program on the debate about whether the United States should enter World War II. A group called America First advocated against entry, based on isolationist views. Charles Lindbergh, the famed pilot who was the first to traverse the Atlantic Ocean in an airplane, was the most prominent member of America First.
One of the journalists of the time was interviewed and said Charles Lindbergh was a boon for America First, because of his celebrity. He said that celebrity endorsements must have an effect, or else companies would not pay so much money to have them advertise.
If that were the case in the 1940s, then it is tenfold the case in 2016. The Internet is a portal to information, but people are drawn to the information which reinforces their opinions. Teenagers who like CS:GO are no different. The YouTube and Twitch videos only appeal to those who seek out those feeds, but their audience are prone to be swayed.
The Counter Strike: Global Offensive skins craze is an example of how quickly gaming can turn into gambling.