Following a controversial betting scandal involving two famous YouTubers and a CS:GO betting site, Valve has come forward to announce that they’ll be shutting down any similar websites.
YouTubers Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Tom “ProSyndicate” Cassell found themselves in hot water over a betting site called CSGOLotto.com – they promoted the site without disclosing that they were the owners.
This led to a lawsuit that alleged Valve ‘knowingly allowed … and has been complicit in creating, sustaining, and facilitating a market’ in which Counter Strike skins can be gambled and sold on for cash – the excellent video below explains it nicely.
Valve’s Erik Johnson has now shared a statement on Steam, attempting to distance the company from these allegations:
In 2011, we added a feature to Steam that enabled users to trade in-game items as a way to make it easier for people to get the items they wanted in games featuring in-game economies. Since then, a number of gambling sites started leveraging the Steam trading system, and there’s been some false assumptions about our involvement with these sites.
Johnson went on to clarify that Valve has no relationship with CSGOLotto, or any similar sites, and that the company receives no revenue from this gambling culture.
Johnson continued, saying that Steam itself doesn’t actually have a way to turn skins into real money:
Steam does not have a system for turning in-game items into real world currency. These sites have basically pieced together their operations in two-part fashion. First, they are using the OpenID API as a way for users to prove ownership of their Steam accounts and items. Any other information they obtain about a user’s Steam account is either manually disclosed by the user or obtained from the user’s Steam Community profile (when the user has chosen to make their profile public). Second, they create automated Steam accounts that make the same web calls as individual Steam users.
He went on to confirm that Valve will begin the process of requesting these betting sites cease operations through Steam – though it remains to be seen how long it’ll take, and how hard they’ll come down on anyone who doesn’t comply.
One might also wonder what took Valve so long to do something about the matter, considering these sites have been active for years now. A cynic might suggest it has something to do with the lawsuits that are trickling in.
Whatever the case, it’s probably a good thing that this is coming to an end. Illicit promotions aside, there’s no actual age restriction for betting on these websites – for many, encouraging minors to gamble has been the real concern.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.