If you are outside of the Counter-Strike Global Offensive community, you might not know what a big deal the whole “skin gambling” thing is in the game — or even what it is about. To provide a better context for all of the stories we occasionally post about the questionable legality of these practices, ESPN wrote an article about how this game has turned into a virtual (and unregulated) casino.
The piece covers the rise of the gambling market that centers around CS:GO’s weapon skins, which can be sold and traded for real-world money, thanks to Valve leaving open a backdoor that allowed third-party sites to extract the skins. These sites have become notorious for gambling the much-desired skins away, raking in huge profits. Since Valve ends up benefiting from this market, the company has been slow to crack down on the formation of these illegal casinos.
It also focuses on the human aspect, in particular the story of a teenager who became a compulsive gambler in the CS:GO skin market and racked up serious debt. It’s a sobering read and a good overview of how Valve let this situation spiral out of control before taking steps to rein it back in.