It seems like there’s a different way to spend your money in the esports world every day, and this maxim also holds true when it comes to the betting side of things. Many different approaches were developed over time to mirror the traditional sports wagering experience – and arguably some were more desirable than others.

The scourge of skin betting

It will be interesting to see what light skins will be under when the history of esports betting is written. Two things are undeniable about the shiny cosmetic goodies which attracted the attention of many aspiring punters. They definitely increased the volume and interest in the scene – but by the same token, the whole process was effectively illegal, or at least directly in violation of the terms and conditions set by the large game developers and publishers (most notably, Valve). In their eyes, these items were only meant to have in-game aesthetic value and they were neither interested nor equipped to police the wider financial implications of these items – however, the moment you assign a set monetary value to a bunch of colorful pixels, grifters and entrepreneurs alike will flock to the opportunity.

Simply put, every skin betting endeavor is a sandcastle, threatened by the smallest gust of wind. The foundations are just not there, it’s all built in a grey-to-black zone, and it logically follows that it won’t be the best actors who decide to use this unregulated quasi-currency instead of the real deal to fuel their betting endeavors. There are no guarantees that you’ll ever see your money again if you deposit on a skin betting site – how could there be when the very idea of skin betting is against the rules in the first place? As we’ve seen in the past, all it takes is a simple letter from a lawyer to turn a profitable-looking business into a pile of rubble. Also, just consider for a moment than many of these sites also just happen to have skin roulettes and slot machines as well. What does that tell you about their project? Caveat emptor – or as we like to put it, bettor beware!

Fantastical fantasies

Then there’s the whole world of daily fantasy esports to look at, an odd environment and betting form which hasn’t translated as well to the digital world as many would have expected. In traditional sports, the lineups are chopped and changed on a regular basis, the league-based formats guarantee that every team plays the same or similar number of matches, the scoring and the performance metrics don’t line up as well with esports and the whole thing feels quite lackluster in general. The idea of fantasy esports betting is that you get to “draft” your own fictional team from a fake budget and win points on a leaderboard if the players you selected perform well. However, even if you find the idea appealing, the rapid pace of changes in esports – both across an individual event and a calendar year – makes the sort of long-term research and investment less viable for this kind of betting than it would be in the case of traditional sports.

Worse yet, the kind of competitions similar to the ones outlined above are often ran by the same sort of shady operators which wade in the grey area of skins betting, often taking these cosmetic items as buy-ins while also handing them out as winnings. As we’ve discussed above, since this is something they technically aren’t allowed to do under the licenses of these skins, the whole house of cards can come down at any moments, and basing a business on a foundation like this means that you have no legal obligation to pay out the winnings at any point, knowing full well that the whole enterprise is questionable at best. There’s no reason why well-regulated and esports-specific fantasy betting can’t thrive in the long run, but the current solutions leave a lot to be desired.

Real money + regulations = a safe and fun experience

Which brings us to real money betting. To put it simply, there’s no real alternative to it. Cold, hard cash rules it all in the end, and it’s certainly easier – meaning legal – to buy that fancy new car from real money winnings than a plethora of CS:GO skins. And while there’s simply no way to legally run a skin betting site, there are many well-established rules and regulations in place for real money betting, which means that your money will be safe with the good actors in the scene who offer such wagers. Real money bets also allow you to bet on the specific outcome of matches and tournaments, which is a great way to spice up your viewing experience and arguably the most skill-testing way of wagering out of them all. There’s a reason why there’s no skins betting in traditional sports, and given enough time, it might just become a thing of the past in the world of esports as well.