It’s not been a great couple of months for sports fans who like to place bets on their favourite games. Not only have the worlds of poker and roulette been plagued by allegations of fixed matches, but so too has the world of sports betting, particularly in the case of the hugely popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) game.
With the World Cup just around the corner, people are looking for ways to bet on their favourite teams and players. However, it seems that some bookmakers aren’t offering odds in favour of amateur esports fans, which has forced many to turn to alternative methods for placing their bets.
Why Is The Legalisation Of Sports Gambling Still Under Consideration In Most Countries?
The legality of sports gambling is rapidly changing, with many countries now looking to either decriminalise or legalise the activity. In most places, it remains a heavily restricted practice, with professional gamblers having to go overseas to place bets due to the controversial nature of sports betting and gaming in general.
Although the UK government has introduced a new Sports and Gaming Bill that proposes to legalise some types of sports gambling in regions that have opted out of regulating the activity, it remains a bit of a taboo in most places. The practice is also quite vulnerable to organised crime, with the UK government estimating that the illegal gambling market is worth £7.5billion per year and growing by 2-3% per year.
Is There A Possibility Of Professional Fixers Being At Work In The Esports World?
While the world of esports and sports have long been regarded as separate entities, with the occasional crossover event here and there, the two actually go hand-in-hand.
With the Olympics fast approaching, people are looking for ways to bet on their favourite games, teams and athletes, and with the world of esports being completely integrated with the world of sports, it’s only natural that they’d want to do so on a larger scale.
While it’s highly unlikely that professional fixers will stoop so low as to interfere with a game that doesn’t involve money, it’s not exactly impossible and it’s definitely happened before. The difference is that in most cases, the police are on the lookout for someone who is trying to skew the results of a sporting event or a casino game for financial gain. In terms of esports, it’s usually one person who is looking to put an inordinate amount of effort into sabotaging another person’s gameplay for personal gain.
As with any other form of gambling, it’s all about probability and statistics, and with the rise of big data and sophisticated analytics, it’s easier than ever to skew the results of a game without being detected.
For example, it’s well known that the odds of certain players or teams being superior at certain moments than others vary over time and across different games, and this is something that can be leveraged by someone who wants to put the odds in their favour.
What Is Valve Doing About It?
Valve has long been regarded as the daddy of digital distribution. Along with Steam, the platform offers games for purchase or rental, with digital content handled seamlessly and without the need for disc exchanges or physical mail, etc.
As a result, Valve has invested heavily in the infrastructure necessary to allow for safer and more convenient gambling, and in 2018 alone, the company spent over £12million on software and hardware to enhance the user experience in this area.
Some of these investments include:
- Creating a safer and more convenient betting experience through the use of AI and automation (e.g. by reducing the amount of times accounts have to be verified and ensuring funds are deposited and withdrawn quickly)
- Increasing game security by employing better encryption and hashing algorithms
- Adding more games to the service, with new titles being added every week (currently over 200 and growing)
- Improving the user experience by testing different betting formats and introducing new features such as multibet tournaments and skins betting
- Reducing fraud by increasing the amount of money that can be placed per person and implementing new anti-fraud measures
- Increasing transparency by publishing quarterly audits containing detailed information about the status of each account and its transactions, as well as upcoming changes to the software and hardware that is being used
- Providing customer care 24/7 through real people who are available to help through live chat and email
While much of this may seem quite technical to the average person, it’s paramount that someone who is already quite familiar with using Steam understands how these various aspects function together, otherwise they may find themselves at a loss when it comes down to placing that first (or any) bet.
The Ongoing Battle Against Online Gambling
Not all countries are welcoming to online gamblers, with more and more countries restricting the activity in one way or another. Despite this, the industry is growing all the time, with more and more people looking for ways to wager online.
In most places, online gambling is heavily regulated and it’s quite a different story elsewhere. As a result, many people turn to offshore betting sites that are based in countries with more lax regulations, with Germany being a popular choice due to its well-established online gambling industry.
While this may be convenient for someone who can’t reside in a country that permits online gambling, it comes with some pretty serious downsides. Putting your personal data in the hands of a third party is not something that anyone wants to do, and due to the lack of government regulation, it’s quite possible that your personal information may be compromised. Plus, you’re effectively throwing away all of your legal rights as an amateur, with the possibility of becoming a target for criminal activity.
As with any other form of gambling, the stigma that surrounds it is quite often worse than the reality. For those who want to bet online, it’s quite a different story. While some countries still regard it as a quite unsavoury activity, more and more people are looking for ways to give it a go, with millions of people now playing casino games online every week.
The Rise Of Esports In A Post-Pandemic World
While most people have been locked down for a long time, the world of digital distribution saw an increase in activity as gamers and esports fans sought ways to entertain themselves during the lockdown.
And it seems that they weren’t the only ones. With the world of sports increasingly becoming a digital entity (and with the number of people following esports growing by 60% between March and April this year), it’s quite possible that sports fans and esports enthusiasts could soon be found alongside each other in the same stadium.
While the worlds of sports and esports have long been regarded as separate entities, with the occasional crossover event here and there, the two actually go hand-in-hand. With the upcoming Games and the upcoming Olympics, it’s quite likely that we’ll see more frequent cross-border gambling, with people looking for ways to bet on their favourite sports teams and players.