DraftKings Joins The Esports Betting Ranks

DraftKings, the daily fantasy site that has saturated the TV airwaves with commercials lately, has just launched their newest wing: esports. As of right now their esports division consists solely of League of Legends matches, however I wouldn’t be surprised to see Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2 and more titles added. It should come as no surprise to see those three games be the most watched of August for Twitch.tv.

DraftKings isn’t considered gambling, but more of a skill game  — though Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and Washington consider it online gambling and prevent their residents from playing it — and esports, the same as in in the traditional athletic world is unfortunately no stranger to gambling and match fixing. From bans in CS:GO due to match fixing last year to StarCraft banning numerous player in 2010 due to a network of match throwers, sadly once money gets involved, people tend to have their morals become a bit more flexible.

While DK may or may not be considered gambling, they are just the latest website to offer payouts based on investments. Ranging from websites such as CSGO Lounge to CSGO Loot, Gosu Gamers and plenty more, there is money to be made — or lost — by wagering your weapon or player “skins” depending on the game. They’re nothing more than digital pixels, but they carry real world monetary value, sometimes in excess of the tens of thousands of dollars.

In the Counter-Strike realm, the sponsoring of so-called gambling sites — not DraftKings, but the others — has been banned in ESEA, a top competitive league. Citing a conflict of interest, insider knowledge and general professionalism, ESEA is making a stand against gambling. Of all the leagues to take the moral high ground on an issue, it’s interesting that ESEA does it, given their shady history. Regardless of previous transgressions, it is likely for the best to see gambling sites being barred from team sponsorship.

An entirely different issue is when people under age-21 wager their skins. These items are worth lots of money, just look at some screencaps from Steam’s Community Market page. Steam is the software distribution portion of Valve, creators of CS:GO and Dota 2. Some of the items for sale on the Valve Community Market are going for $400 dollars, while other third party marketplaces are trading and betting items worth much more money than that.

While this is certainly an exciting time to be an esports fan — the prize pools have never been bigger, corporate sponsorships are flowing in and possibly a major television league and broadcast deal in the works — seeing as DraftKings sees League of Legends on par with traditional sports, we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. We’ve already seen entire organizations get taken down for throwing matches, some for cheating and with yet another website now offering to exchange cash (not just weapon skins with value tied to them) based on esports results, the cynic in me fears the worst.

You can catch David spouting off about baseball, soccer, esports and other things by following him on twitter, @davidwiers.

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8 years ago

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