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Is Skill-based betting in Esports feasible?

Betting Games are either chance-based games with an outcome strongly influenced by random uncertainty or skill-based games. Betting games that come under the tag ‘skill-based’ are not solely based on chance usually, they require some elements of physical or mental ability along with the luck factor. Poker is a good example of a skill-based betting game which casinos have been running for ages. The game pits the participants against each other rather than against the house or the dealer. The players then have to use their knowledge, prior experience, and skills to out-smart the competition.

Skill-based betting games have a wider appeal compared to chance based betting games, but People today are less inclined to go to casinos for a game of poker. Instead, they resort to other convenient methods that are easily accessible like online slot machines, sports betting and other online betting games, for their wagering needs. The change in public trend has seen gambling and betting industries take to online, prospecting new and interesting ventures, in hopes to expand the industry and its appeal in the new age. This is how Esports betting websites and online gambling websites came into existence.

A recent announcement by one such online gambling website, Unikrn, added concern for the commissioner of Esports Integrity Coalition. The website revealed its plan to bring legalized skill-based betting to the U.S Esports industry in the near future.

Unikrn’s Skill-based betting program will allow players to bet on themselves or rather on their skills just like how their fans or anyone else places bets on the player. Such an initiative requires accurate and unforgeable skills ratings of players manning the controller in order to prevent any illegality, but this is extremely hard to achieve without a governing body. Furthermore, a player can easily bet on himself and sub in a more skilled player to cheat the system. At the same time, a skilled player can intentionally perform poorly in matches to accumulate bets against him then turn the table to win a large sum, similar to point shaving in conventional sports. This form of fraud becomes exponentially more difficult to regulate or spot in battle royal games like PUBG and Fortnite. The data from such game are unpredictable as hundreds of players will be playing at an instance and the outcome can vary expansively every time around. Furthermore, boosters, smurfers and also people who are playing legitimately well above their rating in the matching system will simply force people to stop betting altogether. It can prove fatal for the industry in the long run, for people will slowly lose interest in the sport. This raises concern for the commissioner.

On the other hand, it would be fascinating to see a player challenging another player of similar skill, going head to head, all the while betting on themselves. It will attract more viewership, as viewers also stand a chance to profit from the outcomes of the event. An increase in viewership can proliferate the sport’s market and investor support. For an up and coming sport like Esports, it can be vital in this aspect. Unikrn claims to have the resource and expertise required to regulate such an endeavour. According to them all that’s required is a concrete platform, in order to prevent any fraudulent betting. Unikrn’s model of skill-based betting does not let players compete against each other directly. Rather they will be betting against the house, moving the risk from bettors to the operators.

Form our analysis, as it stands the risk-reward ratio seems balanced when it comes to betting in Esports. To stay ahead of the curve and tip the scale more to the side of rewards, the key thing to note is regulation. Erecting a stable and informed governing body can, to an extent, protect Esports from uncontrollable exploitations on all levels. It can drastically reduce the risks involved in introducing Skill-based betting to the sport and provide protection to player, fans and all parties involved. For now, it should be the number one concern. With proper governing bodies to regulate, the betting industry will not boast such a daunting demeanour as it does now. As far as Unikrn’s plans, let’s hope they can back up their claims of expertise and critical knowledge to provide a safe experience for people and players alike, looking to bet on Esports events.

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