31 unlicensed sites blocked in last 2 years
After the Spillemyndigheden, the Danish gambling authority, decided last month to block 15 illegal gambling sites, the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) has called upon European regulators to also block illegal skin gambling sites.
In the last two years, the Spillemyndigheden blocked 31 unlicensed sites through a court order, which the ISFE wants to become more widespread.
Recently, Copenhagen City Court called for ten igaming sites and 15 skin betting websites to be blocked after a petition from the country’s telecommunication providers. Orentxpresscasino, La Fiesta Casino, Equinox Dynamics Nordic Casino, Game Tech Groups Ramses Casino have all been blocked, in addition to two separate domains for Cashpot Casino.
This is the second time in the last two years that Spillemyndigheden has been granted a court order to stop access to these types of sites. In February of last year, the authority banned six sites. Its director, Birgitten Sand, said in a statement: “We will continue our efforts to tackle illegal gambling and look carefully for the skin betting sites, especially, since they often involve children playing computer games that can suddenly evolve into gambling, Therefore, we are also looking at other methods to get rid of these illegal pages, while simultaneously continuing to monitor unlicensed betting and gaming sites targeting Denmark.”
What is skin gambling?
Gamers often exchange virtual goods that they’ve won or purchased in multiplayer online games for virtual gambling chips. Of the millions of pounds being gambled annually, charities are worried that a significant amount is by children or young people.
They are particularly attracted to items such as decorative covers for their weapons on games known as “skins” – costumes or designs to enhance their character or equipment. Players can win skins or deposit money into an account to buy them. However, once the cash is converted into credits it cannot be converted back again. The credits are used to buy skins and the more popular the skin is the more it costs. Skins are then used as a currency to place bets on casino games online. Players deposit their skins which are converted into coins or jewels of different values and used like casino chips.
The problem that campaigners and charities have is that these sites often contain no age verification process and there is nothing in place to stop children gambling.
European Regulators asked to follow Denmark’s lead
The ISFE is asking other European authorities to crack down on skin gambling sites and impose bans the same as Denmark’s recent blocks on these kinds of sites.
ISFE CEO Simon Little has said that authorities across Europe should be ready to “follow the example of the Danish Gambling Authority.” He said in a statement, “The video games sector takes its responsibility to consumers, and particularly to children, very seriously and is currently funding education campaigns around Europe to inform parents about responsible gameplay and the dangers of skin-betting and unauthorized trading of virtual goods.”
He added: “Video games businesses do not allow, facilitate, or condone the conversion of virtual items or currencies into money or the use of them outside the game such as within unlicensed third-party gambling sites.”
As we’ve seen with loot boxes, skins could be the next regulatory issue for operators across multiple countries.