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This article was published on May 16, 2018

Esports has a drug and gambling problem

Esports has a drug and gambling problem
Ailsa Sherrington
Story by

Ailsa Sherrington

Former Social Media Manager, TNW

Ailsa Sherrington is a former content marketer at TNW. Ailsa Sherrington is a former content marketer at TNW.

In this day and age, playing competitive video games has grown into a massive industry. Despite that, gamers continue to fight for the right to turn their hobby into a legitimate sport.

The backbone of their argument centers around the fact that you actually need a lot of skill. Quick reflexes, dexterity, and concentration are integral components of any other sport — which is exactly what esports requires as well.

Fair enough. I’m completely on board with esports being internationally recognized as an official sport. What’s still unclear, however, is how the industry will crack down on its myriad of issues.

With a growing problem of drug abuse and underage gambling, I’d like to see esports addressing them head on, and soon. With more and more countries acknowledging its legitimacy, leaving it too late could damage its future.

At the Offside track at TNW Conference, our lineup of speakers will share their thoughts on how best to ensure that esports tackles these issues.

Drug abuse

Esports has no governing body to regulate the industry. This is likely to happen after it’s recognized as a real sport, but it doesn’t end there. The road to eliminating problems like drug abuse is uncharted territory due to its unique nature.

Substances such as adderall are being abused by many esports athletes to increase their concentration and performance. Due to the fact that some eAthletes have legal prescriptions, the lines of regulation become extra blurry.

Unlike steroid use in traditional sports, adderall doesn’t have lasting effects that form the reasoning for long-term banning. Steroids linger in an athlete’s system and unfairly skew the results over a long period of time, whereas adderall has a short-term effect that wouldn’t justify banning an athlete. While its use could certainly skew results in one session, it’s hard to come up with a sound punishment.

And what about those who are using it legally? While they might be getting an unfair advantage, it’s certainly not feasible to ban adderall altogether — it would leave those with a prescription going against medical advice.

This is probably why no one has really done anything about it. It’s causing quite a headache for the industry. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop at adderall. There are worse drugs being used in competitions, which makes this an even more pressing concern.

Considering the fact that many eAthletes are quite young, throwing drugs into a high-pressure environment is going to make matters worse.

As esports fights for recognition, now is a critical moment to start figuring it out.

Underage gambling

As Rahul Sood (CEO of Unikrn) publicly announced back in 2016, the esports gambling scene is an unregulated nightmare. Two years later, nothing’s changed. Most notably due to the value of ‘skins’ in Counter-Strike (decorations for guns that are purchased using real currency), underage gambling has become a huge component of watching esports.

The problem is that these skins can be purchased by kids, used to create a bet, and returned as real currency if they win. There are thousands of shady sites that don’t ensure you’re an adult, meaning that underage gambling runs wild.

Now it may not seem as big of an issue as, say, drug abuse. That being said, it’s not at all healthy. Gambling can become an addiction, and no parent would want this to happen to their child.

Companies such as Unikrn are already trying to crack down on underage gambling. But it’s still readily available if you look for it, and without a governing body it makes it hard to regulate properly.

Esports has a precarious future

Addressing the dark side of esports is becoming a necessity as international recognition grows. When that happens, it’ll certainly be easier to solve these problems, but no one can agree on a solution.

One thing is certain: esports needs to figure its shit out. Otherwise these issues will only get worse.

It’s time to have a serious discussion. Our best bet is to listen to what industry leaders and eAthletes are saying. Their speculations, predictions, and possible solutions could be the key to moving the conversation forward. Come to the Offside track at TNW Conference, powered by CROWD, to make sure you keep up with the esports dialogue.