In the last few days news have been popping up all over the place and it’s been a mess for not just the press but for the readers. So here’s a quick run down of everything that has happened related to the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive lotto controversy:
Valve issues warning to players on use of ‘lotto’ sites
Earlier in the week, the surge in popularity of ‘Counter-Strike lotto’ sites have garnered attention from Valve, who had put up a warning to their players to be careful about using these services after an accusation was made on YouTubers Trever ‘TmarTn’ Martin and Thomas ‘Syndicate’ Cassell over non-disclosed relationship with ‘CSGO Lotto’ site. This warning came in the form of a block on Steam whenever users would try to access the site.
After a few hours, a message on the Global Offensive subreddit clarified their mistake in blocking the site and have unblocked it from Steam, citing that url blacklisting were only meant to be reserved for ‘malware, phishing, scam sites’. The post, made by mod volunteer KillahInstinct can be read in the link above or below:
You are right, and I have now corrected this. A bit of information/clarification:
The URL blacklist is generally only used for malicious* links and blocks links throughout Steam everywhere and therefor used with extreme caution. As we all know, there are a lot of them out there. Because I can’t possibly know about all of them by myself, and I used to get a gazzilion PM’s a day about it I gathered a team of individuals around me that are well known / very active in the trading community and thus naturally bump into these more often and streamlined this process.
Reports are usually a couple a day, but since a few of these members have upgraded their detection methods it’s become somewhat of an ellaborate cat and mouse game (to give an idea, I blocked about 4000 links in a year and a half, but about 720 where blocked in less than 2 months alone). In part because of this, doing this for 1 year+ gets tiresome, and in part due to vacation I asked some other Steam moderators to help out who not might be as familiar with CSGO, but in general the people reporting links know better what they are doing than we possibly can.
That, in combination with some newly added people reporting URL’s to this process led to some links being eronously blocked. I have corrected this and have talked to the people involved and made more clear this should only be for malicious links.
So, that’s on me/us. As a volunteer moderator. We try to block malicious links best we can but sometimes mistakes are made. Best I can do is apologize for any confusion it might have caused.
For the record: I am not commenting if the site is bad, morally wrong etc – I am just saying that I haven’t seen evidence of that it’s malicious in the way that it should be before we add something to a global filter.
*malware, phishing, scam sites
TL;DR: Was (mistakenly) blocked by a fellow volunteer moderator, unblocked it.
YouTuber involvement with lotto sites
As mentioned above, news broke that tied together two YouTubers to a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive lotto service. These services allow players to place actual money or in-game weapon skins in order to contribute to the pool. The winner is then decided in a roulette ‘chance’.
What stirred up the controversy was the fact that both Syndicate and TmarTn made videos of the site “CSGO Lotto” with them winning a great deal of money. However, upon research made by YouTuber HonorTheCall, it was found that this site was actually owned by TmarTn Enterprises and Syndicate is the Vice President of the same site. Leading to a discovery of dishonesty and manipulation.
Proof was found time and time again in HonorTheCall’s videos to which TmarTn denies ownership and brushes it off as just a sponsorship relationship after the fact. Meanwhile, Cassell has taken to Twitter to apologize for misleading his viewer base and tries to promise future transparency. This comes after his involvement with Dead Realm and his failure to disclose his financial relationship with the company.
As of the 6th of July, TmarTn went ahead and released a video to apologize for not being clear about the ownership of the site. This video has been taken down at the time of writing for an unknown reason. The video however mirrors a statement sent out to PCInvasion by the CSGO Lotto legal team:
“First and foremost, Trevor Martin values the support of his YouTube followers, and he is focused on publishing entertaining content for them.
The ownership interests in CSGO Lotto have been public record since the company organized in December 2015.
It is important to understand that winners on the website are randomly determined by both algorithms and computer code. The odds of winning games played at CSGO Lotto are not more or less favorable to any players. The company has fail-safe measures in place to prevent any person and any player from independently changing or manipulating the outcomes of any games played.
CSGO Lotto finds it deeply troubling that statements against both the company and its owners are not supported by facts and lack a serious understanding of “gambling,” as that term is legally defined. In this way, CSGO Lotto is materially different from its competitors who operate other game play websites that may, in fact, cross the line of legality.
-Coleman Watson, Esq. Watson LLP”
The quick summary is that this apology focuses on addressing the ‘misinformation’ from the general public and the ongoing misunderstanding of various components from their site including the dismissing claims that they are encouraging children under 13 with their neutral verification age-gate. Thus removing themselves from children who may lie in order to participate.
A third YouTuber jumps in to admit to rigged lottery
After seeing the media backlash over non-disclosed ownership over a gambling site despite using it, YouTuber PsiSyndicate has gone out on record to admit to rigging two lotto ‘winnings’ for the Dragon Lore and the Medusa unboxings. Lewis ‘PsiSyndicate’ stated that gambling site SteamLoto agreed to sponsor him and arranged for him to receive these boxes.
Initially, these videos were being accused by viewers as rigged which prompted PsiSyndicate to deny it in the first place and then run giveaways. The unboxed Dragon Lore skins has since been given away which amounts to around $3200-4000 but the contents of the Medusa crate including the Ruby Karambit knife still remains. PsiSyndicate has since alluded to the possible chance to give that skin away too.
PsiSyndicate has gone on to make it aware that his decision to come clean a year after the fact was due to what has been happening with TmarTn and Syndicate in the news. He has gone on to recognize that what he did was not in good taste and wanted to come out and admit it to his fans.
Valve’s legal troubles with grey market lottery
All of this news comes in around after Valve has already hit a sore spot after a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player sued Valve for allowing the ‘illegal online gambling market’ to run rampant. Sites such as CSGO Diamonds, CSGO Lounge and OPSkins popped up to tap into the billion dollar industry of CSGO betting.
What caused this legal trouble to become pronounced was the emphasis that these services are extremely easy for underage children to become involved in with the easy access of Counter-Strike GO weapon skins through in-game crate drops. Alongside this there is also the alleged claim that Valve would also take a portion of the gambled winnings, however this claim is not 100% proven.
Wrap up and further research materials
Hopefully that wraps things together for you the reader to make your own thoughts based on the facts. If you want to read up some more, do watch the videos presented by HoldTheCall earlier or H3H3 Productions‘ coverage on the situation or read the very informative ‘Ask Me Anything‘ on the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive sub reddit by eSports lawyers Ryan Morrison, Bryce Blum and Jeff Ifrah. This article will be updated over time as more news comes to light or details are corrected over this delicate situation.