Unless you have been hiding in a cave for the past 10 years, you should be familiar with the concept of eSports and competitive online gaming.
For decades, amateur gamers devoted hours or even days trying to conquer video games or get to the top of the leader board- and stay there. Whether it was Pac-Man, Donkey Kong or Super Mario, we all dreamed of becoming a professional video gamer at some point. Fast forward twenty years and now, our biggest fantasies have become a reality.
Today, if you have enough time and skill, you can make a living playing video games professionally, or as those in the know would say, taking part in eSports tournaments. The world of eSports has evolved so quickly that a combination of game development, Internet technology and sponsorship deals has created a worldwide phenomenon that shows no sign of slowing down. The fact that eSports is huge is not surprising, especially when you consider how many gamers there are globally; what is surprising however is just how many people are now betting on eSports.
eSports Betting Goes Large
In the UK alone, thousands of punters place legal and illegal bets on major tournaments on an almost daily basis. As a result, UK regulators have stepped in with a plan to regulate eSports and social gaming, and streamline this ever-growing industry. After a consultation in 2016, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has issued a paper on how it plans to go ahead with the regulation. Along with many other matters, the top take-away from the paper is the fact that the UK Gambling Commission will be taking a definite proactive approach to eSports regulation, in the same vein as online and land-based gambling activities.
So, what exactly does this ‘proactive approach’ mean? For starters, the commission will crack down on illegal gambling in eSports. Essentially, the aim is to identify and locate illegal operators and the sources of payments used for illegal gambling activities. At the same time, advertising for eSports events will be scrutinised with a fine-tooth comb. The risk of harm to children from gambling activities will also be looked at, and a zero-tolerance policy adopted. As many gamers fall into the under 18 category, this aspect of regulating eSports and betting will be especially important.
A Crackdown on eSports Operations
According to the report, the Gambling Commission will work together with the video gaming industry to develop a long-term solution for eSports controls for the near and extended future. There will also be a severe crackdown on in-game items and currencies that can be traded, won or sold for cash. At this point though, it has not been decided whether a gaming licence will be required for operations offering prizes for participation.
If we are pessimistic in our views, we would naturally assume this is all about the government trying to get their greedy little hands on some of the vast wealth created by the eSports industry. However, their main concern here is illegal gambling and underage gambling. While there are existing regulations to protect children from gambling exposure, we might just see a change in advertising structure.
While it all needs to be put into a regulatory framework, what we can expect going forward is tighter controls of what can be bought or traded within social gaming, who can offer eSports betting and how the betting is regulated. Unless you have been involved in illegal eSports gambling activities, regulations will make very little difference in your life. Some social gaming sites might be affected, but in the end, it will be a good thing for the industry to have some form of basis to work from, and grow.