Norway regulator threatens to crack down eSports ‘skin betting’

  • Betting using virtual items deemed equivalent to gambling
  • Skin betting violates Norwegian law where two companies are given a state monopoly on gambling
  • Move follows similar legislation from other European countries

The Norwegian Gaming Authority has warned gaming sites which offer ‘skin betting’ that they could be in violation of the country’s gambling laws.

Norway skin betting warning
Norway has fired a warning about skin betting

‘Skin betting’ covers forms of betting where prizes are given as ‘skins’, virtual items in many online video games. Under Norwegian law, only the companies Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto are allowed to offer gambling in the Scandinavian country, a position which was reaffirmed late last year amid calls to liberalize regulations.

The NGA determined in their note that while skins are not always directly transferable for cash, they nonetheless constitute a virtual currency, and that therefore betting with skins as prizes is considered to be gambling.

What does the NGA say?

The NGA stated: “Skins can normally not be exchanged for cash, but it is possible to take the skins out of the game and of other markets for buying and selling. There are separate online casinos where you can bet and win skins, and in such cases, skins are a virtual currency that can be used for gambling. We have seen several examples of Norwegian children and young people who have spent thousands of money from this.”

The move follows similar decisions taken from other European countries. In the UK, which has far more liberal gambling laws than Norway, skin betting was considered a form of gambling, and while it is therefore permitted, operators must first obtain a gambling license.

Skin betting has been particularly popular in games which also have strong eSports markets, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and has been growing in recent years.

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