On a global scale, eSports betting has grown enormously over the last few years. However, eSports betting in Australia hasn’t quite taken off yet. That’s one reason politicians say the great debate over skill-based gaming has moved at a snails pace.
Last year, the concept of categorizing video games as a form of gambling arose when Youtube superstars Tom ‘ProSyndicate’ Cassell and Trevor ‘TmarTn’ Martin got caught up in a major gambling scandal. The issue revolved around mass-multiplayer online video game Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).
A form of betting was taking place on the skill-based gaming title, and the activity was questioned for being potentially illegal and unethical. By encouraging their viewers to visit a website that offered this form of eSports betting, Cassell and Martin were accused of promoting gambling to minors.
Xenophon Pushed For Gambling Definition
As usual, anti-gambling crusader Senator Nick Xenophon took the extreme approach in his 2016 gambling reform agenda. He suggested that video games designed as multi-player, first-person shooters should be classified as “gambling”.
The plan criticized the eSports industry, alleging that children are “being groomed for gambling” through these types of games, calling them “incredibly misleading and deceptive.” Yet here we are, one year later, and the skill-based gaming debate continues to linger on.
eSports Betting in Australia Not Mature Enough
Paul Newson is the Deputy Secretary of Liquor, Gaming & Emergency Management in New South Wales (NSW). He took a moment to speak with CalvinAyre.com in Manila recently while attending the ASEAN Gaming Brief.
He confirmed that the topic of skill-based gaming is an ongoing discussion across the country, but that eSports betting in Australia simply hasn’t matured enough for it to become an urgent matter.
With “interactive gambling,” said Newson, “there’s an interplay between the Commonwealth – how it regulates online – and each state in Australia really regulates the gambling market in that state, which includes online and the rising wagering so I think it is still an on-going debate.”
As for which path Newson thinks parliament will take on the issue, he said, “I don’t think there’s a clear position. I made a comment that the market is not as mature in Australia as it is elsewhere.”
Time to Take Action on Skill-Based Gaming
While Newson’s position is not for or against skill-based gaming being declared a form of gambling, he does feel that state governments needs to make their decision sooner, rather than later.
The Northern Territory is currently the only state in Australia that regulates eSports betting. Other state governments have been asked to regulate and legitimize the activity, but none have moved to do so.
The only matter left to debate is not whether first-person MMO video games should or shouldn’t be defined as gambling, but “whether or not skills-based gaming at all should be allowed,” said Newson.
“Whether it should be bet on, whether it is eSports, whether it is in the electronic gaming environment, whether they should be allowed to evolve into some measure of skill and chance,” he elaborated. “So that’s an ongoing debate.”
Until then, eSports betting in Australia will remain a grey area of the law in most jurisdictions.