Teams Competing in IEM Asked to Promote Skin Betting Site
Such sites are legally questionable.
Published on January 17th, 2018
Teams competing in the IEM CS:GO qualifier run by UCC have been asked to promote a skin betting site or potentially face lengthy bans from all associated tournaments if they wish to have a chance of making it to the main event. The qualifying competition, creatively named Farmskins Championship #2, is part of the build up for the IEM Katowice event held at the end of February, which features a $500k prize pool and last year was attended by such teams as FaZe Clan, Astralis and SK Gaming. A tweet from esports journalist John Perd (@John_Perd) aimed at ESL VP Michal Blicharz yesterday brought the matter to public attention. The image, shown below, suggested that there was up to a three-month ban for any team that failed to promote the event in the desired fashion, which includes not only tweeting about the ‘Farmskins Championship’ before and after games, but also pushing highlights across social media platforms associated with the team. While this is not that unusual, especially for smaller teams and esports, the potential penalties and choice of sponsor has raised some eyebrows. Skin gambling is legally questionable at best, and downright illegal in some territories, and the heavy-handed threat associated with not complying has also caused some consternation, especially given the teams involved are likely to be smaller, and have less bargaining power if they do have legal or moral objections to the stipulations. To his credit, Blicharz replied to say he and IEM had been aware for a few days and are ‘addressing it with UCC’, which, if true, probably makes the public release of the information even more frustrating for IEM and ESL. Skin betting is already a hot button topic in esports, and has the potential to create no just bad PR, but also real legal issue for a company that has tried hard to clean up their image in recent years. Ironically, bigger teams may also have had an issue with this stipulation, either for legal reasons or because they have ties to another skin site, which only goes to further highlight the need for more clarity and regulation in this area. Unfortunately for the event, esports is still in a transition from underground to mainstream, and as a result is vulnerable to unscrupulous practices, making it ever more important that potential abuses such as this are made public. The event has already courted controversy in the past, not necessarily of their own volition, most famously when Duncan ‘Thorin’ Shields was removed from the 2014 event after some ill-advised comments about Poland. Last year Astralis took home the first place prize of $111,769, finishing ahead of FaZe and Immortals, and this year the event has the potential to be even more attractive to fans with a roster shuffle on both sides of the Atlantic likely in the post-major period at the start of February.