The controversy surrounding Valve and Counter Strike: Global Offensive exploded over last week. Two popular Youtubers – Trevor “Tmartn” Martin and Tom “Syndicate” Cassell – have been added as defendants to the class action lawsuit filed against Valve for being complacent in illegal betting in CS: GO.
Martin and Cassell’s addition to the proceedings are no accident, as the two have been recently outed as the owners behind CSGO Lotto. The site allows players to place wagers on CS:GO matches using weapon skins as collateral. While this isn’t usually a problem, the site has been accused of failing to provide protection from allowing minors from placing bets; which is illegal in most countries.
In addition to the law suit, Martin and Cassell were also mired in their own controversy when it was revealed that they had mislead their viewers as to their relationship with CSGO Lotto. The two had originally claimed to have discovered the service by accident, and promoted it heavily through their Youtube and Twitch channels. The failure to disclose the fact that they actually own the site is a breach of US law; which could see the two facing investigation from federal authorities.
CSGO weapon skins can (and are) traded for real world money, which makes them ideal for use as virtual gambling chips. Players wager their skins in the hope of receiving additional skins, which they are later able to sell for a profit.
To be fair, CSGO is not the only game that has such a healthy gambling scene. Dota 2 has a similar problem, with the eSport having already seen its first match fixing scandal back in 2014. Dota 2 is also published and developed by Valve, with the same cosmetic item trading available to CS:GO.
While the class action lawsuit has not yet appeared before a judge, it is only a matter of time before Valve will have to decide on where it stands. The idea of allowing players to trade items is not exactly new to video games; but the advent of eSports and betting has given it a different twist. It is difficult to see how Valve CEO Gabe Newell will respond to the controversy, as the company has been known to remain silent on many issues.
In any case, we may be seeing a significant change to the community marketplace for games with a professional scene. Or not. Neither Valve nor the two additional defendants have issued statements about the legal action.