Volume: 16 Issue: 3
The British Gambling Commission (‘GC’) published its position paper on virtual currencies, eSports and social casino gaming on 15 March 2017, which inter alia states that the existing regulatory framework allows for proportionate control of the risks associated with betting on eSports, reiterates the GC’s push for the industry to self-regulate, and emphasises the need to protect children and vulnerable people as demonstrated by the prosecution involving FutGalaxy.
The GC stresses that gambling services that utilise in-game items that can be traded or exchanged for money or money’s worth or for ‘other items of value’ outside of the game are considered money or money’s worth and therefore such activities require a licence. Susan Biddle, Legal Consultant at Kemp Little thinks that “there is still scope for some debate as to when an in-game item constitutes money or money’s worth. The GC says that items which can be traded for ‘other items of value’ are money’s worth, but also says that items which might otherwise be acquired by real money payment are not necessarily money’s worth.”
“The GC has wisely not attempted to produce a painting by numbers set of objective tests to determine exactly where and how eSports competitions become licensable betting activity,” said Julian Harris, Partner at Harris Hagan. “It has set out a number of factors to take into account pointing either to wager or competition, and taking also into account factors such as presentation, use of gambling imagery and links to gambling operators and products.”