The fallout from the recent Counter Strike: Global Offensive controversy continues, as Valve ordered a C&D of 23 item-gambling websites.
The Counter Strike community recently came under fire for the existence of item-gambling websites and instances of failed promotion disclosure and potential payout-rigging: A recent lawsuit filed by a Counter Strike: Global Offensive player accused Valve of “sustaining and facilitating” an item-trading market that encouraged and promoted gambling towards minors; YouTube content creators Tom Cassell “ProSyndicate” and Trevor Martin “Tmartn” were also outed by the Federal Trade Commission for failing to disclose their statuses as the owners of CS:GO Lotto while promoting the service in their videos. It has yet to be confirmed, but a personal investigation by YouTuber Richard Lewis claims that one of Twitch’s most popular broadcasters- James Varga “PhantomL0rd”- was involved with lotto-rigging within CSGO Shuffle; PhantomL0rd has yet to comment or confirm on the matter, however his account has been terminated by Twitch following these revelations.
Valve recently stated that they have “no business relationships” with any sort of item-gambling websites, nor have they received any profit from these services. The likes of Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2 and Steam itself feature player-to-player item trading and stores with community-made content, however no official systems allow players to convert items into real-world currency.
Valve is now acting on their claim to shut down item gambling services, as multiple CS:GO lotto websites received official cease and desist letters yesterday afternoon. According to the C&D letter, 23 item gambling websites have 10 days to close up shop due to their use of Steam for external commercial use.
“We are aware that you are operating one of the gambling sites listed below. You are using Steam accounts to conduct this business. Your use of Steam is subject to the terms of the Steam Subscriber Agreement (“SSA”). Under the SSA Steam and Steam services are licensed for persona, non-commercial use only. Your commercial use of Steam accounts is unlicensed and in violation of the SSA. You should immediately cease and desist further use of your Steam accounts for any commercial purposes. If you fail to do this within ten (10) days Valve will pursue all available remedies including without limitation terminating your accounts.”
Despite Valve’s warning to those who don’t comply, lotto site CSGOBig claims this will only lead to a temporary shutdown.
“Do not worry, we are only shutting down temporarily and we will definitely be back soon, so stay tuned. We are posting this as a PSA for everyone to be aware that other sites are affected too (please see attachment) and anyone who has items on other sites SHOULD withdraw them if they claim they will continue to operate.”
While player-tracking websites for Team Fortress 2, Counter Strike and other Steam-based titles operate using the Steam OpenID API (“Application Program Interface”), none of these enable players to access and sell in-game items, and are therefore protected under the Steam Subscriber Agreement.