Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

After an extended period of silence following the controversy between CS:GO betting sites, and YouTube Creators not disclosing their ownership, Valve has finally spoken out about the ordeal and has started to crack down on item gambling sites.

Last week the Internet was awash with reports that two popular players in the CS:GO community had been promoting an item gambling website in which they actually owned, without disclosing the fact. After a bit of back and forth and apologies which have been removed, the two have gone quiet as they seek legal representation.

Now, it looks like Valve has decided to speak out about the drama and have revealed that they’re starting to crack down on gambling sites which use Steam’s built-in trading system to exchange weapon skins which can later be sold for real cash. Valve have stated that their terms of service make it clear that using the trading system in such a way is against the ToS and it would start sending notices to gambling operators “requesting they cease operations through Steam.”

Before last week’s controversy, Valve had previously come under fire over this system and became the focus of two lawsuits which claimed that Valve knowingly allowed, supported, and sponsored said gambling. Valve has denied this in a statement.

“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,” Valve’s Erik Johnson said in a statement. “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.”

Johnson actually went into more detail about how these sites operate, revealing that the sites use Valve’s OpenID API to users to prove ownership of an account, as well as using it to harvest other information from public profiles and the user themselves, from here an automated Steam account, which pretends to be a real user, to manage transactions used on the gambling sites. Something that’s clearly in breach of both the API and Steam itself.

Valve’s crackdown has had a knock-on effect too on thousands of gamers who play Counter-Strike on Twitch, as the streaming service themselves have decided to make gambling on CS:GO sites specifically against its user agreement. Players who broadcast footage of themselves using such sites would face a ban from Twitch.

Although this is a good move on Twitch, it’ll likely cause some issues for streamers who have relied on these gambling sites to pull in views, as reaction videos have become pretty popular in the past couple of years.

Of course, this won’t cure the problem, only stunt it slightly as sites find ways to work around Valve’s API. One way would be for users themselves to willingly hand over items, details, and skins… which would be a pretty silly move.

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