It’s long been known that the British Government are looking to reform the current gambling legislation. New measures have been introduced over the past few years, for example, the ban on using credit cards to gamble, and the max stake on FOBTs (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals). But, now the entire framework is going to be reviewed including no deposit free spins, VIP programs and maximum bet stakes online.
Another area that will be thoroughly discussed is eSports betting. Betting on eSports wasn’t around back in 2005, when the law came into effect, so we expect for there to be quite a few new introductions. We’re going to break down how betting on eSports, and eSports in general could be affected by this Gambling Act review and reform.
One key area that will be reviewed is gambling sponsorships in eSports and sports like football. The question that the government is looking to answer is the following – “What is the positive or negative impact of gambling sponsorship arrangements across sports, eSports and other areas?”.
In the media there has been a lot of talk about banning gambling sponsorships due to the increase in football teams that are sponsored by betting companies. Not much has been written about eSports sponsorships, but we do know that due to the child appeal with these games that it is possible that eSports sponsorships will be banned under the new legislation.
What will this mean for eSports teams and tournaments?
Not many betting companies have delved into the sponsorship of eSports teams and tournaments. Although, one company that has heavily done so is Betway. To date, Betway has five eSports related sponsorships in place, four team sponsorships and one tournament.
- NIP (Ninjas in Pyjamas)
- BIG (Berlin International Gaming)
- MIBR (Made in Brazil)
- BLAST Premier
Out of all the teams, none of them are UK-facing so we doubt that Betway would be forced to cut ties with these eSports teams. The tournament runs across many venues in Europe, including in the UK, so maybe if a ban is introduced they’ll have to remove sponsorship for that specific event and only that. We’ll have to wait and see.
There has been much debate about loot boxes and whether they are considered gambling or not. A loot box is a random virtual item that you can pay to receive with real money or in-game money. You don’t get the choice of the item, instead it is randomly selected. You can see this in FIFA, Call of Duty, Fortnite and other games. People buy packs to receive a better chance of getting the prizes that they want.
There’s been a lot of criticism of loot boxes as they are aimed at children, and have a similar mechanism to gambling, paying to win a prize. In light of this gambling-like behaviour occurring in games that are played by teenagers and children, the government launched a call for evidence on video game loot boxes in September 2020. The evidence submission ended at the end of November, so now we are waiting to hear what the next steps will be when it comes loot boxes.
A petition was set up in 2020 for loot boxes to be regulated under the Gambling Act. In the petitions’ 6-months duration it reached 46,627 signatures. This meant that it fell short of being debated in parliament as the minimum number of signatures that needs to be reached is 100,000. We still believe that this will be heavily debated when it comes to looking at the Gambling Act reforms as there is a lot of criticism from politicians around loot boxes.
Banning Betting on eSports Altogether
One of the most drastic considerations could be to completely ban betting on esports. This is highly unlikely as anyway you need to be over 18 and have your account verified before being able to place bets on any esports matches.
Although, children under the age of 18 are one of the main demographics that play and watch esports matches. It may be considered that this betting event type will encourage more under 18s to break the rules and somehow find a way to bet on these matches.
As mentioned at the start, this is unlikely as it’s down the betting operator to ensure that all players no matter the sporting event are old enough to gamble.
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