YouTubers Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Tom “ProSyndicate” Cassell have found themselves in a bit of pickle involving a betting site called of CSGOLotto.com.
CSGOLotto is (as you may have guessed) a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive weapon skin gambling website they’ve been promoting for months – without actually disclosed the fact they own it. Shady.
The site doesn’t involve real money – visitors will essentially gamble with their Counter-Strike weapon skins – but it would be easy enough to then sell those skins elsewhere on the web.
A YouTuber by the name of HonorTheCall first investigated CSGOLotto, only to discover that Martin is the director of the website, while Cassell is the vice president.
Both Marin and Cassell had been regularly uploading videos where they basically talk about how awesome betting on the site is. There are even videos of them winning.
So why is this a problem? Well, as of May last year, the Federal Trade Commission laid out guidelines for internet folk (such as YouTubers) on promotion in videos.
In a nutshell, if a blogger or YouTuber makes money from a company it promotes, without making the relationship (like the fact they own said company) clear, then the law has been broken.
After HonorTheCall highlighted a few of the videos in his investigations, Martin then pulled said videos down from YouTube. You can watch the first one below (thanks to a re-upload from Marie Antoinette).
The second video hasn’t been re-uploaded, but in it, Martin defended his actions:
Basically what’s ‘breaking news’ now is that myself and a few other people, including Tom, own CSGO Lotto. This is something that has never been a secret. Faking something like that and being deceiving something like that would be one of the worst things you could possibly do. I don’t know how you could sleep at night knowing you ripped out other people with misinformation and cause them harm. How could you live with yourself? The problem with that would be if I didn’t divulge that information and I do. You can look in the description of every single one of my CSGO Lotto videos.
However, as Kotaku points out, these descriptions only seem to have been added since the pair were called out.
Meanwhile, Cassell has apologized on Twitter to anyone who believes they were misled – though he also basically claims that YouTube told him it was okay.
I apologize to anyone who feels mislead regarding the ownership of @CSGOLotto. I will always be more transparent from here on out!
— Thomas (@ProSyndicate) July 4, 2016
I've always disclosed that my CSGO videos were sponsored & even asked a YouTube employee if anything more was needed & they said it wasn't.
— Thomas (@ProSyndicate) July 4, 2016Advertisement
According to a Bloomberg report, as much as $2.3 billion worth of skins were bet in 2015, so this is definitely something of an issue. h3h3Productions have done some really good legwork in helping uncovering this, and you can check out their excellent video below.
We’ll just have to wait and see what the consequences are for Martin and Cassell – if indeed there are any.