Due to the recent surge in popularity of skin betting and questionable bookmaking operations ESEA have laid down the gauntlet to any organization or player who associates themselves with such operations by introducing a blanket ban to anyone supporting gambling.
ESEA were quick to release a statement on the matter in which they told the world that Valve, CSGO’s developer and publisher, had already instructed that professional teams should not “have any association with betting as it pertains to CS:GO weapon skins.” This is an interesting statement to make as thus far Valve had distanced themselves from skins entirely. Their own T&Cs report that skins do not have any monetary value and that the community determines should any skins have value. Whether this is a misinterpretation by ESEA of a separate directive which was likely intended to ensure the integrity of professional matches by ensuring it is crystal clear to players that they cannot bet on themselves or any other game, or whether it is Valve trying to distance skins betting from professional play, is unclear. The former seems more likely, given that Valve whitelists the technology required, in the form of bots, for sites such as CSGOLounge to operate.
ESEA’s statement implies that the only advertising that is not permitted is that of the team name itself, and in the players’ in-game nicknames, which is seen as one of the most valuable adverts for their sponsors. The team most affected is in-fact owned by the aforementioned website, Lounge Gaming, whose Polish lineup have been forced to rename to DobryGaming when competing in the ESEA Premier League, though they do retain their organization’s website, lounge.gg, on their profile.
It remains to be seen whether teams will be forced to cover up betting companies’ logos on their shirts at any offline events hosted by ESEA, though given that their presence is in the United States of America, that may not be a bad move for teams competing at events there anyway.
It has been widely predicted if Esports and CSGO specifically continue to grow at the current rate then skin betting and illegal bookmakers will soon disappear or be shut down by the authorities. Unikrn, a sponsor of Mousesports, spoke out against the decision, and we are in agreement with their stance that legitimate bookmakers should be permitted to sponsor a team without being penalised, and CSGO Betting hopes that ESEA revisits their decision.