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Valve To Demand Gambling Sites Using Steam Login Cease Operations

by Mike Futter on Jul 13, 2016 at 10:18 AM

Valve is about to get tough on gambling sites built on tradeable Steam items. The company has been facing scrutiny after popular YouTubers were found to violate disclosure rules in promoting a gambling site they quietly owned.

In the coming days, Valve will be sending notices to gambling sites that trade in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) skins and other items. While the company doesn’t specify how it will pursue these sites should a cease and desist not do the job, Valve implies that it will use other means to isolate itself from the gambling operations.

The full statement from Valve’s Erik Johnson follows:

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. We’d like to clarify that we have no business relationships with any of these sites. We have never received any revenue from them. And 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. 

Using the OpenID API and making the same web calls as Steam users to run a gambling business is not allowed by our API nor our user agreements. We are going to start sending notices to these sites requesting they cease operations through Steam, and further pursue the matter as necessary. Users should probably consider this information as they manage their in-game item inventory and trade activity.

This would effectively put a stop to sites like CS:GO Lotto, owned and operated by Trevor Martin (TmarTn) and Tom Cassell (ProSyndicate). The two were outed in recent weeks after lying to viewers about how they came upon the site. 

It would also end the scamming activity of YouTubers like Lewis Stewart (PsiSyndicate), who took money from another gambling site to post videos that included rigged auctions. Stewart later admitted he lied in his videos in which he claimed the auctions were legitimately won.

Valve is currently the subject of a class action lawsuit related to CSGO skin gambling. You can read more about that and the phenomenon in our previous coverage.

[Source: Valve]


Our Take
With a class action lawsuit looming and massive bad publicity by association, Valve needs to take a stand. CSGO skin gambling isn’t new though, and while it’s good that the company is drawing a line, I have to wonder why it took so long.