Gambling is one of mankind’s oldest pastimes, and the practice of betting on the outcome of various events probably predates historical record. The forerunners in terms of sanctioned sports betting were ancient Greece and Rome, where betting on athletic competitions and gladiator matches were a sometimes frowned upon but common practice. However, even before then, it’s safe to say that betting has been around as long as there have been competitions with winners and losers. Whether it’s for the additional excitement because one thinks they know the outcome or fans bets against their favorite team to profit if they lose (hedging one’s happiness), there are a lot of potential reasons why sports wagering is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Ever since its beginnings, it has also been an industry of great controversy, which is only slowly shifting in public perception from sin to vice to mostly harmless entertainment activity. This shift has taken place not only in public opinion but also in legal status, with many countries heavily regulating betting and gambling activity as a result. For sports betting in particular, the possibility of match fixing and the potential detrimental effects it can have on players and teams has brought about very divided opinions on its role in professional competition.
With the rapid growth of the eSports over the past few years, it’s no wonder that the topic of betting is also getting increasing attention. With betting on Dota evolving from GosuBet’s introduction in 2008 to huge in-game item betting volumes on Dota 2 Lounge to actual real money betting being offered on sportsbook sites like Pinnacle Sports, the topic is only going to become more and more relevant.
Betting hitting CS:GO
One community in which it has recently made significant waves has been the CS:GO community, where if you read the comments on some matches, it sounds like some people even prefer betting to both playing and watching. A lot of the action and controversy is centered around CSGO Lounge, a site for both betting and trading. Created by Rob Borewik and his team of four who are also responsible for Dota 2 Lounge, they expanded their operation to include CS:GO with the introduction of the Arms Deal update, which allowed them to offer the same service to a whole new group of players.
The website every CS:GO player is talking about – CSGO Lounge
The idea behind it is pretty simple: you predict the winner of a game, choose the weapons skins, keys or other items you want to bet and trade them to one of the site’s bots – it takes care of the rest. If you win, you get additional items based on the value of the items you bet and the odds of the team you bet on. If you lose, your items are added to the pool of items distributed to the winners. The CSGO Lounge team only take a modest 4% cut of the total items bet in order to make up for potential losses due to Steam errors or problems with trades, while all winnings not redeemed within 21 days also go into their item pool.
CSGO Lounge has been the subject of much talk in the Counter-Strike scene for some time now, partly due to the possibility of getting a bunch of cool weapon skins for your loadout but also for some of the fallout from people putting their most precious items on the line. From early February onward, DDoS attacks on high tier games became increasingly common as some people would rather destroy the match than accept losing their stake. This began to happen so frequently that people started to ask for CSGO Lounge to stop their service, although luckily Valve deployed a patch in early March that fixed this issue. However, betting still brings out the worst in some people in the community. Indeed, multiple top players have reported that they’ve received threats and other abuse after losing games, as well as fearing that people will attempt to disrupt their games as a result of perceived negative trends in their performance.
By giving people a new possible level of dedication in the form of CSGO Lounge’s service, there is generally a lot of positive energy around the game. People bet on games, follow the results, cheer for their favorite teams and, overall, get a deeper connection to the competitive scene as well as CS:GO in general. Building up a lot of knowledge about and dedication to Counter-Strike and its competitive scene is a big thing – it’s always good when people spread the word and strengthen the community. More people watching games is a good argument for both Valve and sponsors, who will then invest in CS:GO and help the game grow more and more.
Even though the bad sides are truly bad, gaming communities will always have their negative aspects, and, whether you see the positive or negative sides as being the most prominent, things like these only happen when a critical mass has been reached.
What this means to the CS:GO community
Being able to bet on big matches is something that most Counter-Strike fans have waited for ever since CS:GO was first released. With DreamHack Winter 2013 and EMS One Katowice having pushed CS:GO player numbers to new all-time highs, this year’s upcoming CS:GO events will surely only bolster these. The popularity of CSGO Lounge is just one aspect of the scene’s development, just like back in the days of CS and CS:Source when fans brought out new projects that got other people involved.
These moments push CS:GO to new heights (More photos on Flickr.com)
2014 will definitely be an interesting year to see where the rapidly growing community will take CS:GO next. What projects come to light as more and more people join the scene? Only time will tell…