This week has been a big one for YouTuber drama, with news breaking that two prominent streamers had been unmasked as the owners of a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive betting site called CSGO Lotto.
I won't try to explain it all, but professional streamers Trevor 'TMarTn' Martin and Tom 'ProSyndicate' Cassell created the site and then pretended to have just discovered it in order to showcase it to their viewers and generate interest. This video below from H3H3 productions, highlights exactly what the pair have been up to, and it's pretty much the shadiest thing I've seen in games for a while. But what people haven't got around to yet is that this boom in shady videogame gambling practices is largely Valve's fault.
You can find out more on the scandal with this great video below.
Both parties insist they've done nothing wrong, with TmarTn insisting he did nothing wrong once or twice a day in video blogs on YouTube before deleting them in short order. It's a mess. But while they've both definitely screwed up (and are being sued for it), this wouldn't have happened if Valve hadn't tried to make a loophole allowing it to create slot machines for teenagers with its crate system. As the H3H3 video points out, when opening the crates in CS:GO, they spin exactly like a slot machine, the difference here being that you can play this particular slot machine from 13 years of age.
Sure, secondary markets to flog in-game items have sprung up since the early days of eBay, and developers have tried to discourage resellers in a variety of different ways with varying success. With CS:GO though, the sites in question require you to log into the site with your Steam account so that you can use your cosmetic items as tokens, Valve could have stopped this at any time, but through trying to make these items cost money - items sold through the Steam marketplace generate a cut for Valve - it has allowed an entire industry of gambling sites to thrive. These sites manage to remain unregulated because officially these skins aren't representative of real money, but when some of these skins can sell for several thousands of dollars, it's about time Valve stepped in and straightened up its act. Because it hasn't publicly intervened so far, Valve has ensured that CS:GO's culture is now intertwined with gambling.
The worst part is that if you're 13, old enough according to Steam's terms and conditions to have an account of your own, then you're old enough to gamble on these sites. How many other gambling setups let you gamble with, potentially, several thousand pounds worth of tokens when you're barely old enough to venture down to a playground by yourself?
Valve's silence on this issue has been a tacit endorsement for too long, but it's time it owned up to its role in creating this industry and started taking steps to shut it down.