fbpx

Beyond Casinos: Exploring Betting in Video Games and Virtual Worlds

Gambling is one of human history’s oldest and most popular forms of entertainment and recreation. People have always been fascinated by the thrill and risk of staking money or other valuable items on the outcome of a game or an event. However, gambling is not only limited to casinos and sports betting. In the digital age, many video games and virtual worlds offer opportunities for players to wager real or virtual money on various outcomes. Whether it is a loot box, a skin, a weapon, or a virtual property, these items can have real value and be traded, sold, or gambled with. But what are the implications of this phenomenon? How does it affect the gaming industry, the players, and the society? And what are the legal and ethical challenges that arise from it?

In this article, we will explore the concept of betting in video games and virtual worlds and how it differs from traditional gambling. We will also examine some of the most popular and controversial examples of this practice, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, FIFA Ultimate Team, Second Life, and Decentraland. We will also discuss some of the benefits and risks of this activity and how it can be regulated and controlled.

What is betting in video games and virtual worlds?

Betting in video games and virtual worlds is a form of gambling that involves using real or virtual currency to stake on the outcome of a game or an event within a game. Unlike traditional gambling, where the odds are fixed and determined by a third party, such as a casino or a bookmaker, betting in video games and virtual worlds is often influenced by the skill and performance of the players themselves. For example, in a first-person shooter game like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO), players can bet on their own matches or on professional tournaments, using skins (cosmetic items that modify the appearance of weapons) as currency. These skins can have different rarities and values and can be traded or sold on various platforms, such as Steam or third-party websites.

Another example of betting in video games is FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT), a mode in the popular soccer game FIFA, where players can build their own teams using cards representing real-life players. These cards can be obtained by playing matches, completing challenges, or buying packs with real or virtual money. The packs are random and have different probabilities of containing rare and valuable cards. Players can then use their cards to compete against other players online or offline or to trade or sell them on the FUT market.

Betting in virtual worlds is similar to betting in video games, but it involves more immersive and realistic environments that simulate aspects of real life. For example, Second Life is a virtual world where users can create their own avatars, interact with other users, and explore various locations. Users can also create and own virtual land, buildings, businesses, and other assets that have real value and can be bought or sold with Linden Dollars (L$), the official currency of Second Life. Users can also use L$ to gamble on various games and activities within Second Life, such as poker, slots, roulette, horse racing, etc.

Another example of betting in virtual worlds is Decentraland, a blockchain-based virtual world where users can create and own parcels of land that are recorded on a distributed ledger. Users can also build and monetize their own content and experiences on their land, such as games, art, casinos, etc. Users can use MANA, the native cryptocurrency of Decentraland, to buy or sell land and other items on the Decentraland marketplace. Users can also use MANA to gamble on various games and events within Decentraland.

How does betting in video games and virtual worlds differ from traditional gambling?

Betting in video games and virtual worlds differs from traditional gambling in several ways:

– Any authority often does not regulate or standardise items and currencies used for betting in video games and virtual worlds. Depending on the game or platform they belong to, they may have different definitions, values, and legal statuses.

– The outcomes of betting in video games and virtual worlds are often not based on pure chance but on skill or performance. This means that players may have more control over their results than in traditional gambling.

– The games and events that players bet on in video games and virtual worlds are often more diverse and dynamic than in traditional gambling. They may involve complex strategies, tactics, rules, interactions, narratives, etc.

– The motivations and behaviors of players who bet in video games and virtual worlds may differ from those who gamble in traditional settings. They may bet for fun, challenges, socialization, expression, achievement, etc.

What are some examples of betting in video games and virtual worlds?

Betting in video games and virtual worlds is a widespread phenomenon that covers many genres and platforms. Here are some of the most popular and controversial examples:

– Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is a first-person shooter game that allows players to bet on their own matches or on professional tournaments using skins as currency. Skins are cosmetic items that modify the appearance of weapons and can have different rarity and value. Skins can be obtained by playing the game, opening cases, or buying them from the Steam market or third-party websites. Skins can also be traded or sold on these platforms or used to gamble on various websites that offer games such as roulette, coin flip, jackpot, etc. According to a report by Narus Advisors and Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, the global market for CS:GO skin gambling was worth $5 billion in 2016.

– FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) is a mode in the popular soccer game FIFA that allows players to build their own teams using cards that represent real-life players. Cards can be obtained by playing matches, completing challenges, or buying packs with real or virtual money. Packs are random and have different probabilities of containing rare and valuable cards. Cards can also be traded or sold on the FUT market or used to gamble on various websites that offer games such as lottery, bingo, etc. According to a report by SuperData Research, the global market for FUT was worth $1.37 billion in 2019.

– Second Life is a virtual world where users can create their own avatars, interact with other users, and explore various locations. Users can also create and own virtual land, buildings, businesses, and other assets that have real value and can be bought or sold with Linden Dollars (L$), the official currency of Second Life. Users can also use L$ to gamble on various games and activities within Second Life, such as poker, slots, roulette, horse racing, etc. According to a report by Linden Lab, the developer of Second Life, users exchanged $500 million worth of L$ in 2019.

– Decentraland is a blockchain-based virtual world where users can create and own parcels of land that are recorded on a distributed ledger. Users can also build and monetize their own content and experiences on their land, such as games, art, casinos, etc. Users can use MANA, the native cryptocurrency of Decentraland, to buy or sell land and other items on the Decentraland marketplace. Users can also use MANA to gamble on various games and events within Decentraland. According to a report by NonFungible.com, the total volume of transactions on Decentraland was $50 million in 2020.

What are some of the benefits and risks of betting in video games and virtual worlds?

Betting in video games and virtual worlds has many advantages and disadvantages for the gaming industry, the players, and society. Some of the advantages are:

– It can increase the engagement and retention of players by adding more excitement and challenge to the games.

– It can create new revenue streams for game developers and publishers by offering more content and services to the players.

– It can foster a sense of community and social interaction among players by enabling them to share their experiences and opinions.

– It can stimulate creativity and innovation by allowing players to create their own content and experiences.

– It can provide entertainment and education for players by exposing them to different cultures and realities.

Some of the disadvantages are:

– It can expose players to addiction and financial losses by encouraging them to spend more time and money on gambling.

– It can facilitate fraud and money laundering by enabling players to transfer funds across borders and jurisdictions without proper oversight.

– Using unauthorised or misleading content and practices can violate intellectual property rights and consumer protection laws.

– It can harm minors and vulnerable groups by exposing them to inappropriate or harmful content and influences.

– It can undermine the integrity and fairness of the games by creating incentives for cheating or match-fixing.

How can betting in video games and virtual worlds be regulated and controlled?

Betting in video games and virtual worlds is a complex and controversial issue that requires careful regulation and control. Different countries have different laws and policies regarding gambling in general and gambling in video games and virtual worlds in particular. Some countries prohibit or restrict gambling, while others allow or regulate it under certain conditions. Some countries have specific laws and regulations for gambling in video games and virtual worlds, while others apply existing laws and regulations for gambling in general. Some of the challenges and questions that regulators and policymakers face are:

– How do you define and classify gambling in video games and virtual worlds?

– How do we determine the value and legality of the items and currencies used for gambling in video games and virtual worlds?

– How do we monitor and enforce the compliance of game developers, publishers, and operators with the relevant laws and regulations?

– How to protect the rights and interests of the players, especially minors and vulnerable groups, from fraud exploitation harm?

– How do we balance the benefits and risks of gambling video games, virtual worlds, and gaming industry players’ society?