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Gambling on video games has been a recent hot button topic, as many of the sites dedicated to it have been flooded with controversy. Now, one senator is looking to introduce legislation in order to prevent such games from targeting young people. There are a couple of caveats to be aware of here, however. The first, is that the Senator in question is in Australia. The second, is that it's far from clear exactly what changes to the law he's looking to make.
The topic of gambling on competitive online games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been a major issue in recent weeks, primarily based around the discovery that more than one YouTuber who promoted such sites, actually had a financial stake in them. While the non-disclosure issue is one with problems of its own, the news opened up many eyes to the fact that if gambling is taking place in video games, where large percentages of the player base are minors, this means that minors are gambling, and that's a problem.
As a result, Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon has announced plans to introduce a bill to tackle the issue of underage gambling in games when the Australian Parlament reconvenes at the end of August. Speaking with Fairfax Media, Xenophon called out Counter-Strike Global Offensive and DOTA 2 as examples of the offenders he wishes to deal with.
However, Senator Xenophon stopped short of explaining exactly what his bill would do. Australia already has a law dealing with "interactive gambling" but the Senator says that it hasn't been able to keep up with the changes in technology. It sounds like the main objective will be to rework the existing law so that video games can be included within the law's definition of gambling.
It's also possible that games that have gambling aspects involved could see increased age requirements so that minors are not able to play them. In addition, it could be made illegal for games in Australia to sell products with variable pricing based on chance. Such things are already illegal in Japan.
Before the law gets around to dealing with any of these issues, private industry is already trying to fix the PR problem. Valve, creators of Counter-Strike, as well as Steam, the platform the game is played on, began to take action last month by sending cease and desist letters to third party gambling sites that linked themselves to Steam via the platform's OpenID API. These sites allowed players to bet rare weapon skins, which had actual cash value, on the outcome of games. Valve has tried to make it clear that they had no actual business relationship with these sites.
With this issue being a heated one right now, it will be interesting to see if other countries follow suit and attempt to enact legislation to deal with underage gambling on video games.