In the last few months, there has been a rise in the number of unregulated casinos where underage gamers from around the world can exchange items won over the course of playing video games for gambling tokens.

This industry is worth billions and the authorities have taken note as it is now under heavy scrutiny. In the past, online gaming was mostly about young adults and sometimes children playing simplistic games like bingo. Most of the online gaming platforms at the time were, bingo sites. and other similar bingo sites provided enough entertainment for gamers but all of that has changed.

More sites are now using game info to facilitate illicit trade between gamblers and game developers and the authorities are now on the attack.

From innocent trading to cut-throat gambling

Skin trading, as this new method of underage online gambling is called, began as innocent exchange between gaming enthusiasts. Everything changed, however, when money entered the equation. As skin trading grew, the online gaming sites noticed the potentials and the amount of money to be made. That led to the shift from an optional pastime engaged in by gamers to something more harmful.

Teenagers most at risk

The big issue with skins trading and gambling is that players are typically aged 13 to 18, with many putting their parents in credit card debt with their new found habit. Most of them have access to these online gaming platforms round the clock on their high powered gadgets. This is worrying for the authorities in the major climes where this new trend is developing because there is no difference between what they are doing and going to a casino offline.

In Australia for instance, Nick Xenophon, is pushing for a senate inquiry into this new gambling element of video games as it becomes apparent that young gamers are in danger. He believes that without proper enquiry, there is a real possibility that more young people will develop gambling problems. If nothing is done, according to him, the teenagers of today will become problem gamblers of tomorrow.

Skins gambling: just the start?

Whilst skins gambling is the first time virtual items have been exchanged for real money, there is an expectation that it won’t be the last time. Since the space is so unregulated, it is difficult to know how many people are engaging in the practice, how many are underage and how many companies are supporting them. The lack of regulation means that we could see a continuation in the trend where virtual objects have value to people both online and offline.

At a time when underage gambling is a cause for concern for many governments across the globe, it is dangerous to allow online gaming to degenerate into an enabler for problem and underage gambling.

Leave a Reply