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Stakes for sale

Sky News turned its attention back to the often controversial world of crypto casinos this week.

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The news outlet revealed that pre-verified accounts with several crypto operators were being sold to punters on social media in jurisdictions where the brands are not licensed.

In the UK, for example, where Stake’s crypto casino offering is not permitted, Sky found that users could buy an established and verified account with the operator on Facebook, Discord, TikTok, Telegram, Reddit or X.

Analysis of hundreds of similar adverts found that accounts with Stake.com were the most advertised and most requested among all brands, with more than 200 ads for pre-verified Stake accounts posted on Facebook since the start of October.

The accounts allow users to skip any ID verification requirements, and are being sold for as little as $10.

“Premium accounts are also on sale for thousands of dollars. These more expensive accounts tend to have active cashback or financial bonus features,” the article suggests.

This, according to Gamban co-founder Matt Zarb Cousin, could potentially prove disastrous.

He suggested that the people most likely to be using these accounts in the grey market “are children and gambling addicts.”

“The idea of owning a very, very volatile currency you can wager on casino games, which are extremely addictive, would have been a very, very harmful experience for me… The addictiveness of that is almost turbocharged,” he added.

Since being contacted by Sky News, TikTok, Reddit, Discord and Meta have removed the accounts in question.

Elsewhere, a spokesperson for Stake said: “Stake is aware of attempts to evade our industry-leading controls by a variety of means. Stake has the strongest controls in the industry, meaning that anyone attempting to fraudulently gain access to Stake must devise new methods of doing so.”

Whether all this leads to a reduction in the number of falsely verified accounts up for sale remains to be seen. You wouldn’t want to Stake too much on it.

X marks the spot

Fortune brought us the latest from BetMGM this week, as it reported on a new agreement between the operator and the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

X might seem like the perfect partner for BetMGM, given that it’s already awash with sports betting commentary, tipsters and others looking to get in on the action in US wagering.

“While the specific financial terms of the collaboration could not be learned, the intention is to introduce a feature for X soon that will showcase betting odds and provide a direct link to BetMGM, allowing users to place bets,” Fortune reported.

The agreement comes at “an important moment for both companies,” it added, given that the NFL Super Bowl is coming up in just a matter of weeks.

Live events like that are “where X’s strength lies,” it said, as viewers and punters alike want to get in on the conversation in real time.

In 2015, for example, the Super Bowl saw a record 28.4 million tweets published on Twitter.

Since its takeover by billionaire sci-fi fan Elon Musk, however, X “has been plagued by outages during high-traffic events such as the Super Bowl – it even crashed during last year’s halftime show.”

Following an outage ahead of last year’s showdown, Musk reportedly emailed staff telling them to stop developing new features “in favour of maximising system stability and robustness, especially with the Super Bowl coming up.”

It seems that this year, the integration of sports betting odds onto the platform is one new feature Musk is willing to put his money on.

True Grit

The Guardian took us stateside this week, as it explored the mental health implications of what it called America’s “unchecked” gambling boom.

The proliferation of online sports betting and iGaming across the country since 201 “risks exacerbating a nationwide mental health crisis, according to a congresswoman pushing for federal government support,” it reported.

Congresswoman Andrea Salinas told the newspaper that “Rather than try to put the genie back in the bottle,” the US should “make sure we have the research and the treatment before it does become out of control.”

The rapid growth of US sports betting has coincided with “a spike in addiction cases,” according to the article.

To combat this, Salinas suggests that a proportion of tax revenue raised from betting should be diverted towards compulsive gambling support services, to “make the entire industry healthier”.

Salinas said nearly 7 million Americans are struggling with gambling addiction.

Under her proposed “Grit (Gambling addiction Recovery, Investment and Treatment) Act”, half of the funds raised under the federal sports excise tax – which raised an estimated $271m last year – would be used for gambling addiction treatments, prevention and research.

The Guardian reports, however, that “gambling operators are against the proposal.”

Companies fear that the sports excise tax actually pushes punters towards the black market, the article suggests, a fear that was criticised as a “precitable, short-sighted objection” by advocates for greater compulsive gambling support.

The Grit Act remains a long way from being signed into law, and Salinas is “braced for a long campaign” to see it passed.

In the meantime, it seems the discussion around how best to support those suffering from gambling-related harms isn’t going anywhere.

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