E-Sports YouTubers Grilled Over Skin Gambling Videos
Posted on: July 5, 2016, 05:12h.
Last updated on: July 5, 2016, 07:16h.
The world of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) skin gambling is in the spotlight again this week after it emerged that two YouTube e-sports stars had been promoting a betting site on their YouTube channels without clearly declaring they were the owners of the site.
Trevor Martin and Tom Cassell, known to their fans as “TmarTn” and “Syndicate Project,” respectively, failed to disclose they owned equity in third-party skin gambling website CSGO Lotto. They regularly uploaded videos of themselves appearing to win big prizes on the site, prompting calls that the videos were deliberately rigged for promotional purposes, an accusation denied by the YouTubers.
“I created the site. I wanted to build something awesome for other people to enjoy and I played on it,” said Casell, defending himself in a video this week. “Obviously, on my end, me playing on Lotto rather than other sites gives me an advantage because it promotes my own site, but it is not immoral, there is nothing wrong with it. I am 100 percent honest.”
What in Heaven’s Name is Skin Gambling?
CS: GO is a first-person shooter video game created by Valve, the company that owns the Steam games distribution platform. “Skins,” meanwhile, are collectible designer weapons mods that can be purchased in-game and traded for real money.
Skins can be swapped and sold like baseball cards but they can also be used like virtual casino chips in the countless third-party gambling sites, like CSGO Lotto. Valve has been heavily criticized for allowing the proliferation of skin gambling to occur because it has deliberately permitted the transfer of skins to third-party sites.
The gambling sites incorporate software built by Valve, which takes 15 percent of every skin that’s bought or sold.
Martin and Cassell were outed by another YouTuber, HonorTheCall, who produced legal documents showing that the pair were listed as president and vice-president of the company, respectively.
“In portraying a site as a cool thing they have discovered online, they’re encouraging their viewers to play, showing it as a place where they can make money. That is dishonest,” Tom Phillips, of Eurogamer, told the BBC.
“Their videos showed them winning thousands of dollars very easily, and that invites a lot of questions. They’re inviting their fans to put money into a website, and actually, they’re also behind it.
“It damages their credibility, and on YouTube credibility is an important thing.”
Many of those who participate in the games are under the legal gambling age. Last month it emerged that Valve was being sued by a former player, who complained he had lost money both as an adult and a minor through skin gambling. The suit states that Valve “sustained and facilitated” the market in order to profit from it.
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