HOW pretty is your gun?
That’s what it has come down to in the wildly popular online war game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
And young people are splurging hundreds and even thousands in a bid to obtain the hottest fake weaponry, called “skins”.
Just like chips in a casino, people playing the game can either buy them from online marketplaces, or unlock them in-game, and then take them to a variety of unregulated websites, where they can be used on casino games like black jack or roulette.
The skins can be very easy to obtain, or much harder, and they are priced accordingly, with some worth up to $2000.
They are merely cosmetic, changing how the guns look, but players have gone absolutely ga ga for them, partly because of their value in the online market – and the lure of gambling.
There is no age limit on those who can use the skins to gamble and you won’t find any gambling warnings on the site, alarming anti-gambling crusaders.
And it is big business, with some videos on Youtube involving big skins wins attracting hundreds of thousands of views, with fears it inspires young people to gamble more.
An ABC expose revealed some kids have even stolen their parents credit cards in order to gamble on the game.
A Brisbane teen, 18, admitted he stole nearly $2000 from his father’s credit card, in order to buy skins and gamble them.
He said he started out just having bets with his mates, but that escalated quickly, his gambling spiralling out of control.
“I bet all my money on skins, I was that much into it, then it started getting bad,” he said.
“I just had that urge.
“I hated it and I hated myself after it, but at the time I just thought ‘I won’t get caught’.
He said he was inspired by some of the YouTube videos.
“Seeing how much they go in, how much they got out of it and just wanting to be like that,” he said.
Another teen, also 18, of Sydney, told the ABC: “It was actually quite surreal that I’d have these skins in game but I was making quite a bit of money off them. It didn’t seem like the stakes were high, but they were.”
The problem in Australia, according to Southern Cross University expert, Dr Sally Gainsbury, is that our laws pertaining to online gaming are archaic.
“The regulation for internet gambling was actually created before Facebook even existed,” Dr Gainsbury said.
“There’s very little effort being put into updating the internet gambling regulation.
“It’s unlikely that anything will be done about it any time soon.”
It’s a growing problem, but it doesn’t appear the government is going to great lengths to tackle it.
Fortunately, there are ways where you can bet legally online on video games.
The burgeoning e-Sports market is one of the fastest growing in online gambling.
People bet on players and teams at tournaments across the world in online games like Dota 2 and League of Legends.
Sportsbet.com.au has markets almost all year round on the game.
The Australian online bookmakers obviously regulate the age at which people can bet and follow Australian law.
One man who will be tackling gambling more broadly is noted anti-gambling independent Senator Nick Xenophon.
He needs a hung Parliament after the July 2 election to push it through, but if that happens, we could see some serious reform on all forms of gambling, sports, entertainment, pokies and online games.
Xenophon and his newly coined self-named party may secure up to three seats in the Senate and that would potentially allow him to hold whichever party forms government hostage, given how close the poll is set to be.
This is what we call high stakes
Who knows if it is true or not, but, reports out of India suggest that a problem gambler has lost his wife after he put her up as a stake in a bet on the Indian Premier League.
Nope, we’re not kidding.
Apparently, police in Kanpur report that this bloke lost all his money on the stock markets, so he put his wife up as a stake on one of the matches.
It came to light when the blokes he was punting with started harassing his wife, who went to the police.
The woman claims on the day of her marriage, the man asked her for jewellery, and other valuables, presumably to trade on the stock market.
We do have a giggle when we see stories like this, but, in all seriousness it is shocking that any one could even consider that their wife was their possession to wager in the first place.