Starting with the introduction of tradable skins in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a new industry, that of skin betting, started and took the game by storm, massively increasing its popularity. There were two main ways bet skins. You could play casino-style games on websites like CSGO Wild or bet on the outcome of actual CS:GO matches.
One of the oldest and most popular match betting websites was CSGO Lounge. According to some reports, it indirectly increased the viewership of various CSGO tournaments, starting with small-time matches nobody would watch usually and culminating in increased viewership for the Majors. After all, you’re much more likely to watch a match if you have a small wager going. The problem was that most betting websites only used Steam API for customer identification. This opened up the possibility of underage CSGO fans betting and possibly losing a lot of skins, when underage betting is illegal. Now, you could argue that skins are ingame cosmetics, which have no actual real-life value; however, that is not strictly true, as you can use third party websites like opskins.com to sell them for actual cash.
How did CSGO Lounge respond to the whole matter? In a statement, they recently announced their plans to discontinue skin betting as a feature of their website, transforming it into an entertainment and information platform, effective immediately. According to the announcement, the most immediate matter left to deal with now is facilitating successful withdrawal of skins from their users’ accounts.
The biggest effect CSGO Lounge’s abandoning of betting is going to have is that match viewership will suffer in the short term a little bit, in my opinion. That will be especially true for low level tournaments without any big name teams to draw in viewers, as the biggest share of the viewership only watched the matches after betting on them. This effect will not be as noticeable in big tournaments, tho, as teams competing in them have considerable fanbases, able to draw in the crowds. Who knows, the people who didn’t root for any team in particular might even find their favorite one now, unless they didn’t enjoy the matches themselves, only watching in order to bet on them.