Esports betting and skin Gambling: A brief history

Nancy Greer, Matthew Rockloff, Matthew Browne, Nerilee Hing, Daniel L. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The rising popularity of competitive video gaming (‘‘esports’’) has attracted the involvement of the gambling industry, with esports cash betting available from the majority of wagering operators. In addition, an unregulated gambling subculture around esports has arisen, with virtual game items known as ‘‘skins’’ being used as currency to place bets on esports and third-party sites that host games of chance. Little is presently known about these novel forms of gambling, although there are growing concerns that these products may place some vulnerable consumers (e.g., youth) at risk of gambling-related harm. The current paper provides a historical overview of esports betting and skin gambling globally, drawing on the limited research literature available, including academic journals, government publications, conference presentations, and media reports. Topics briefly covered in the review include esports, skins, history of the gambling products, gambling exposure and accessibility, research findings (e.g., prevalence, awareness, demographic character-istics, gambling behaviour, problem gambling), illegal activities, changes to skins and the skin gambling market, and industry and government responses to concerns arising from these new gambling products (e.g., underage gambling). The intention of this paper is to provide the general public, academics, governments, and other key stakeholders with an understanding of the evolving landscape around esports betting and skin gambling, the type of bettors that these forms of gambling attract, and the potential adverse consequences of these activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-146
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Gambling Issues
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Esports
  • Esports betting
  • Loot boxes
  • Skin gambling
  • Video games
  • Virtual items


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