E-sports, e-sports Betting & Skin Betting: From Competitive Mult`iplayer Gaming to ‘New’ Gambling Phenomena?

Best UK Casinos Β» E-sports, e-sports Betting & Skin Betting: From Competitive Mult`iplayer Gaming to ‘New’ Gambling Phenomena?

In e-sports or electronic sports, players (professional, semi-professional and amateurs) play a multiplayer video game competitively in front of spectators.

By multiplayer games we mean games in which players or teams compete against each other. The image surrounding competitive gaming has changed worldwide and the rise of the industry has been rapid.

The phenomenon was completely unknown a few years ago, but today it is even being investigated whether e-sports can be included in the Olympic Games. It’s not that far yet. However, possible collaborative projects around e-sports simulation games are being further explored.

E-sports is something different from ‘normal’ gaming. Gaming can be seen as a pastime or a hobby, while e-sports is about competitive gaming. There is money to be made and an audience wants to watch it. Within the e-sports industry there are also umbrella organizations that want to regulate, standardize, structure and allow the entire event to evolve or grow.

E-sports, e-sports Betting & Skin Betting From Competitive Multiplayer Gaming to 'New' Gambling Phenomena
E-sports, e-sports Betting & Skin Betting From Competitive Multiplayer Gaming to ‘New’ Gambling Phenomena

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E-sports players are people who excel in specific games. The careers of these players are usually short: they often retire around the age of 25. Various studies into the motivation to play professionally show that the competitive element is at the top.

Other motivations include seeking a challenge, escaping from reality (escapism) and entering into social relationships.

The players play a lot to sharpen their skills and to continue to compete at the highest level. It is not unusual for players to spend up to 14 hours a day training (playing, tactical discussions, team meetings, etc.) for e-sports.

Escapism, one of the most common motivations for esports athletes, has the strongest link to problematic gaming.

Various studies show that escapism has the strongest link with problematic gaming.

This concerns players who play a lot to forget problems they face in daily life. Therefore, attention is certainly needed for the mental well-being and a positive self-image of the players so that they do not develop problematic playing behavior.

Scope of E-sports

Describing the scale of e-sports is not easy: ‘ordinary’ gamers, e-sports players and e-sports fans who watch the tournaments are mixed together. A gamer can participate in a tournament once, and an e-sports player is of course usually also an avid gamer and a spectator of e-sports events. So it is impossible to align them perfectly.

E-sports is the fastest growing sport at the moment.

According to figures from Newzoo2 (2023), an evolution can be observed in the number of e-sports fans worldwide. The figures went from 255.2 million in 2016 to 395 million in 2018 to an estimate of 495 million people for 2020. There has also been an influx of financial resources into the sector. According to Nielsen and Karhulahti (2022), e-sports is the fastest growing sports branch of the moment. This is partly due to the technological progress that has been made in recent years.

There is also a noticeable evolution in the sports industry in the UK, of which e-sports is now becoming a part. Since 2018, football clubs from the Premiere League have had an e-sports team, with which they participate in the ePro League. This ePro League is the e-sports counterpart of the Pro League in which FIFA is played instead of traditional football.

Is There a Danger?

Many of the physical dangers associated with e-sports are comparable to those of (seated) desk work. In addition to the physical aspect of health, there is also the psychological aspect. It can be said that e-sports together with excessive or problematic gaming can cause negative dispositions, including frustration, bad mood, irritability, restlessness or irritation. Furthermore, in the dream of becoming a professional gamer there is always the danger that gaming will take up more and more time, causing the person to pay less attention to school or interpersonal relationships and as a result of which he or she prefers gaming to other hobbies or pastimes. There is a chance that some may lose control and develop a gaming disorder.

We should not forget that e-sports and gaming also have positive effects on the player. For example, there are improved spatial cognitive skills, improved strategic problem solving and in professional or advanced gamers there is even improved short-term memory, faster pattern recognition, more efficient problem solving and executive control. According to a study, e-athletes see physical activity alongside gaming as a way to improve their overall health as well as advance their careers. One of the most significant benefits of e-sports is that it encourages prosocial behavior (e.g. giving interviews, press conferences, sponsored events and signings) and makes players feel better in their social environment.

E-sports Betting & Skin Betting: Rapid Evolution Requires Good Monitoring

Due to the rise of e-sports, it has also been possible to place bets on e-sports competitions via various betting sites in The UK since 2015. These sites offer a section for e-sports within their sports sections.

Within this section, bets can be placed on different games and different competitions. There is essentially no difference between e-sports betting and regular sports betting on the websites, they are offered and treated in the same way. Money is bet on the winner and/or on aspects of the game and afterwards the gamblers are paid out or not depending on the results. With e-sports betting, all the elements for a game of chance are present, such as with sports betting. And yet they are not subject to the same regulations.

Skin Betting

In addition to betting money on e-sports, there is also the phenomenon of skin betting. This is a form of gambling in which players bet on certain games of chance, and mainly e-sports competitions, with objects (skins) that they have acquired or purchased in the video game (game).

A skin is a purely aesthetic element in the game, it does not help the player play the game. Yet a skin often has emotional value for gamers.

These skins are therefore sometimes worth money and players can exchange them via certain websites to play games of chance, for example. This principle can be compared to buying chips in a casino.

Is There a Danger?

Offering gambling elements in games, whether skin betting or eSports betting, can introduce young gamers to not on gamstop casinos. An additional danger here is that the websites that offer this form of betting often do not have a gambling license. Age verification on such websites is also often absent.

A Finnish study by Macey and Hamari (2018) shows that the share of problem gamblers is higher within the gaming community than within the general population. The strongest connection was observed between those who play problem games and those who play problem games. In addition, the study by Gainsbury et al. (2017b) finds that there is a significantly higher prevalence of gambling problems, based on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), among people who bet on e-sports.

Furthermore, there are hypotheses about the fact that eSports introduces a new target group into the gambling world. And that a new gambling option has been added for people who previously gambled online. Further research into such connections is indicated.

In case of problematic gaming, it is important to check whether the person in question is also involved in gambling.

It is therefore important to check whether the person in question is also involved in gambling in case of problematic gaming, and this also extends beyond e-sports betting and skin betting. There is a danger that people will overestimate individual skills – and therefore their impact on the game of chance – and thus see the game of chance as an ordinary game in which chance plays a more marginal role.

Conclusion

The rise of e-sports is a fairly recent phenomenon. As a result, little is known about its possible consequences on society. Despite the recent rise, a large number of people have already been attracted to the sport. Monitoring developments is therefore certainly recommended. This phenomenon straddles the border between gaming and gambling, making it an interesting area for research into possible interactions between the two and their impact on different target groups.

Efforts must also be made to increase knowledge. Both about the phenomenon in general and about the more specific protective and risk factors. With these insights, effective and targeted prevention strategies and (early intervention) methodologies can be developed and rolled out. Care is needed for those who get into trouble.

Finally, there is also a need for a clear legal framework for e-sports betting. This should offer the players protection, from a health perspective.

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