Reading Time: 2 mins read

Published: May 9, 2023

Written by: Stoyan Todorov

  • There seems to be an influx of affiliate codes linking to gambling websites in the CS:GO scene
  • Many of these websites are unregulated and can be used by underaged players
  • Fans say Valve should do something about the issue, which is reaching mid-2010s levels

As the launch of CS2 is drawing near, skin prices and gambling have skyrocketed, which invites many unregulated actors into the marketplace ecosystem, many players argue.

Skin Gambling Is on the Rise Again

Skins and other cosmetic items have been a key part of CS:GO ever since the game was released more than a decade ago. This has resulted in its own ecosystem of acquiring, trading, and selling of skins developing. Part of this system is “skin gambling” which sees said skin being used to bet on the outcome of professional matches or other games of chance.

This has always been a gray area in the CS:GO community, but Valve and other parties have been tolerating it for years. However, fans have been complaining recently that the issue is becoming too big, as players have been complaining about affiliate codes linking to gambling websites from countless streamers on Twitch. These websites are often badly regulated and have no background date-of-birth checks, which fans complain is one of the biggest issues. 

Many fans went on social media to discuss whether the community had begun treading the same precarious line as it was in the mid-2010s, when CS:GO saw similar issues. The majority of comments from the Reddit post discussing the situation seem to point towards the need that something needs to be changed.

Fans Criticize Current Skin Gambling Practices

Players believe that these gambling companies “don’t follow any regulations” as they’re based in a country outside of any other region’s jurisdiction, apart from their own. The streamers that promote links to said companies have also been placed on the chopping block, with CS:GO fans saying that content creators who spend a large portion of their shows opening cases, are part of the problem. 

“I saw a big streamer literally say: “Save 100 bucks a month to gamble. People need to have fun too”,” one comment reads. “It’s crazy how all these streamers and pros and everyone ALWAYS manages to open crazy skins/knives too…” another commenter pointed out. 

Fans also pointed out that the issue has become even bigger ever since Counter-Strike 2 was announced in late March, as Valve explained older skins will also be useable in the new game. This has caused prices to skyrocket and the unregulated third-party sites often utilize this to entice people to use their services. This is made worse by the fact that underaged players can often use the unregulated sites as well. “Back in 2014 I was gambling on cs go lounge, thinking back I think it’s fucked up that 14-year-old me was gambling for skins worth 50 €,” one player recalled a time when the CS:GO market ecosystem was in a similar state.

Valve has before tried to put a dent in such practices. On July 14, 2016, the company ruled that these sites had violated their user agreement, and issued cease and desist letters to several websites found in breach. However, now that the issue is once again rearing its head again, Valve has stayed silent.

Considering the launch of Counter-Strike 2 is just a few months away, perhaps it is time for Valve to take another look at the gambling scene, or else risk the influx of many bad actors in the CS marketplace ecosystem.

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