CS:GO Gambling Scandal
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The CS:GO Gambling Scandal refers to an online controversy surrounding the massive speculative market where players of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) can trade and bet on custom skins using real money, which came under scrutiny from online gaming communities after two prominent CS:GO streamers were found to be owners of CSLotto, a popular CS:GO skin gambling site that had been frequently promoting through their streaming channels.
Gambling in CS:GO
In the online first-person shooter CS:GO, players can trade a variety of skins that change the appearance of weapons in-game. As a result, an online market for the skins emerged, along with several websites allowing players to gamble the items as currency. According to Bloomberg Business Week, upwards of $2.3 billion in skins were bet in e-sports matches during 2015.
Conflict of Interest Allegations
On June 27th, 2016, YouTuber HonorTheCall uploaded a video accusing CS:GO streamers Tom Cassell (a.k.a. ProSyndicate) and Trevor Martin (a.k.a. TmarTn) of failing to disclose their ownership of CS Lotto, a gambling site often featured in their videos (shown below).
Shortly after, Martin released a video in which he claimed to have disclosed the ownership within his YouTube video descriptions. The video was subsequently made private. On June 30th, HonorTheCall refuted these claim, noting that Martin had previously stated he "found" the site and only added the disclosure after the conflict of interest accusations arose.
On July 3rd, 2016, YouTuber h3h3 productions published a video titled Deception, Lies and CSGO, in which host Ethan Klein discussed the allegations and called for regulation of the gambling sites (shown below).
On the same day, Gameinformer published an article detailing the scandal, noting that Tom Cassell had also been accused of receiving $30,000 for promoting the Xbox One console without informing viewers of the financial relationship. On July 4th, 2016, YouTuber Lewis Stewart (a.k.a. PsySyndicate) posted a video confessing that two videos featuring weapon skin auctions had been faked (shown below).
On July 4th 2016, YouTuber TotalBiscuit published a video in which he criticized the streamers for their corrupt practices (shown below). Meanwhile, Redditor success_whale submitted a post about the scandal to /r/OutOfTheLoop, where it received upwards of 2,400 votes (84% upvoted) and 400 comments within 24 hours.
On July 13th 2016, Valve employee Erik Johnson issued an official statement saying that Valve had no involvement with any existing third party gambling site and that the use of Steam's OpenID API, an API created by Valve that is used by gambling sites to prove ownership of Steam accounts and items, to run gambling sites was a violation of Steam's user agreements. As a result, these sites would be sent notices to cease operations through Steam immediately.
On the same day, video game streaming service Twitch issued a statement reminding users that broadcasting content that violated the user agreements or terms of services of third party sites was not permitted and therefore, content that broke Valve's user agreements would not be permitted on the site.
 Bloomberg Business Weekly – Virtual weapons are turning teen gamers into serious gamblers
 Gameinformer – Popular YouTubers Embroiled In CS:GO Gambling Site Scandal
 Gameinformer – YouTuber Admits Participting In, Lying About Rigged CS:GO Skin Auctions
 Bloomberg Business Week – VIRTUAL WEAPONS ARE TURNING TEEN GAMERS INTO SERIOUS GAMBLERS
 Reddit – Would someone please explain
 Steam – In-Game Item Trading Update
 Twitch – Twitch and third-party terms of service and user agreements
 Ars Technica – Valve lawyers send cease-and-desist letters to Counter-Strike gambling sites
Jul 05, 2016 at 12:32PM EDT
Jul 05, 2016 at 04:14AM EDT
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