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Vicente Vera, Contributing Writer

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Imagine you had the chance to possess the rarest video game accessory in the world. An accessory that would make everyone in the online gaming community admire you. Imagine you could have it for just $1,000.

Does this seem like a fair price? To the readers who do not play video games, it would seem like a ridiculous offer. But to the gamers, this would be an offer they could not refuse.

Everyone has played video games at some point in their lives. But has everyone played a videogame that allows them to gamble for money?

With the world of online gaming growing more popular the past few years, online gambling has finally merged itself into the gaming scene. A popular game emerging from this scene is known as Counter Strike: Global Offense, it is at the center of this growing trend, and it is becoming a huge problem.

Counter Strike is a first-person shooter, in the same category as Call of Duty. The game was developed by the company Valve in 2012 and has since become one of the most popular online games. Part of what makes Counter Strike so popular is the accessories you can buy for your characters within the game to make them look more unique. They are called “skins”.

The way you acquire these skins is you pay a few dollars in real-life currency to buy a crate that contains random guns. The crate then opens and one of the random guns is selected for you. Much like gambling, winning a rare gun is left up to chance. These guns can be traded between other players, and even sold for real money.

The accessories being traded and sold can range in price from pennies, to even $1,000. These crates in the game operate like a slot machine and when they are opened it is equivalent to pulling the lever and praying for a big win. The online game Counter Strike may have components of gambling, but there are websites that allow players to gamble their accessories with other players.

According to a study done by Deakin University, children have already become desensitized to gambling because of gambling ads that come on during sporting events. This study suggests that these ads make children yearn to participate in gambling.

Websites related to Counter Strike have created a new platform for players to take their gambling to the next level. On these websites, dozens of players can take their accessories won from the video game and put them in a pot, then a random player is selected as the winner, and they keep all of the accessories in the pot, much like a lottery.

This is where the fine line between virtual games and real life gambling gets blurred. Not only are adults participating in gambling on these sites, children are as well. Since there is no regulation on these sites and no age requirements present, there is nothing stopping children from finding their way onto these sites.

How do children find their way onto these sites? Well, not only are gambling ads playing during sporting events, the ads also run on child friendly content, content that is readily accessible to children on a social media platform known as Youtube.com

There are gamers on Youtube who film themselves playing the game Counter Strike and send it out to their loyal viewers. They have amassed millions of followers, and most of their audience, are young, easily impressionable children. These children look up to content creators as their role models, and follow every move they are told to make.

According to a 2016 article published by The Daily Dot, Youtube personalities Trevor Martin and Tom Cassell recently became defendants in a class action lawsuit filed by parents of children who lost money on Counter Strike gambling sites.

The lawsuit alleges that both Martin and Cassell promoted a gambling site called CSGOLotto.com to their audience without disclosing their ties to the site. They didn’t just have ties to the site, they owned the site. “I found this new site called CSGOLotto.com that you guys are going to love” Martin proclaimed in one of his videos.

Martin and Cassell posted videos of themselves winning thousands of dollars to entice their child audience to go on their site and participate in gambling.

Not only is this immoral, it is illegal. It is misleading to their audience. They believe that they too can win big if they participate in the sites gambling. In reality, the website does nothing to prevent children from participating in gambling. Video game gambling can be a gateway to real-life gambling, which in turn can cause these children to turn into hard-core gamblers.

So as you can see, gambling within the online video game community has been going on for years, but has now just been exposed to mainstream media. As of today, most of these Counter Strike gambling sites, including CSGOLotto.com, have been shut down, though many still lurk in the dark corners of the web.

Valve has also cut ties with these sites and has since denied having any involvement in third party gambling.

 Meanwhile in Australia, a senator, Nick Xenophon is trying to get a bill passed to regulate games like Counter Strike the same way one would regulate a casino.

The comparison to a casino can be easily seen as Counter Strike and the gambling websites seem to operate much like a lottery. A lottery accessible to anyone old enough to get their hands on a keyboard, and credit card.

Looks like the world of online gambling has officially merged itself into the gaming scene. So I pass the question on to you, would you pay $1,000 for rarest video game accessory in the world?

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