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How the CS: GO Case System Affected the Gambling Industry

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Find out about the different ways that the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive case system has influenced the gambling industry.


Influence of the CS: GO Case System on the Gambling Industry

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(Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels)
Counter-Strike Global Offensive is a multiplayer first-person shooter video game that was first released in 2012. In 2013 they introduced the case system. With this system cases containing “skins”, cosmetic items for modifying weapon’s appearance but that don’t affect gameplay, drop randomly in the game or are given as an Operation Mission reward. A key must be purchased for $2.50 in order to open cases.


Items that drop from cases have varying degrees of rarity, with the demand for rare items growing rapidly which led to skins having a real money value; the rarer the item the greater the value, with prices ranging from a few cents to thousands of dollars. This in turn resulted in the creation of a multitude of third-party CSGO trading sites as well as CSGO gambling sites such as those listed on CSGOBettings.


The case system implemented in CS: GO has had a big influence on the gambling industry both good and bad.

The Rise of Skin Gambling​


Soon after the introduction of CSGO case system a large number of websites sprang up to help players with trading their Counter-Strike Global Offensive skins. This coincided with the increasing popularity of esports and it wasn’t long before some of these CSGO skin trading sites began offering their users a way to wager skins on CSGO and other esports matches.


Players could deposit skins to these websites from their Steam account, and withdraw any skins they may have won to their Steam inventory. Essentially the CSGO skins functioned much like chips in a land-based casino. As no real money currency was involved, regulation issues were avoided and players could keep the skins they won or sell them for a profit.


Eventually the skin gambling sites began offering skin betting on various games of chance such as CSGO Roulette, Crash, Coinflip and others. The skin gambling market for CS: GO reached its peak in 2016 and was estimated to be worth approximately $4.6 billion, far more than the total esports real money gambling market of $649 million in the same year.

Crackdown on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Skin Gambling​


The CSGO skin gambling didn’t go unnoticed. In 2016 a lawsuit was filed against Valve (CSGO developer and publisher) for knowingly allowing and supporting illegal gambling. A second lawsuit soon followed and both were treated as class-action suits. In response Valve issued cease and desist letter to over 40 websites involved in skin gambling, giving these sites 10 days to stop using Steamwork’s API. Another step taken by Valve was to implement a Steam policy of a 7-day cooling off period on newly acquired items.


At the same time, streaming site Twitch warned its users against promoting skin gambling sites on their streams. The actions taken by Valve and Twitch resulted in a number of skin gambling sites closing with others ceasing operations in a number of different countries. It was only in January of 2022 that the final claim in the Valve skin gambling lawsuit was dismissed. As it turns out that the plaintiff never used Steam or played any of their games.


Despite everything that has happened CSGO gambling still exists although it is much more low-key than it was. Some older sites weathered the storm and newer skin gambling sites have been launched. However, the CSGO skin gambling market is far from what it used to be. Skin gambling is often associated with underage gambling and many legitimate gambling sites don’t want to become involved with it because of that.

CSGO Case System Effects on the Gambling Industry​


While the skin gambling market has shrunk, the overall esports gambling market is booming. According to one report projected wagers on esports in 2021 may be as high as $8 billion and all indications are that number will grow significantly in the next few years. CSGO is among the most wagered on esports worldwide.


A number of different factors have contributed to the growth of esports betting. A growing audience that is expected to pass 500 million viewers in 2022 definitely has a role as does the use of cryptocurrency in sports betting allowing for more anonymity and smaller fees.


There is little doubt that skin gambling, that unforeseen consequence of the CSGO case system has had a lot to do with the growth of esports betting. Many of those who used to wager on esports using skins, continue to bet on esports today.


In addition, many of the better skin gambling sites today are completely legitimate, holding recognized gambling licenses and accepting real money and cryptocurrency deposits as well as skins. Some sites are even beginning to dabble in NFT gambling, a concept that is quite similar to CSGO skin betting.


The CSGO case system resulted in drawing a lot of attention to underage gambling, while at the same time it has contributed to the overall growth of the esports betting industry.
 
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