Valve Gives Skin Gambling Sites Ten Days to Shut Themselves Down

Posted on: July 21, 2016, 03:11h. 

Last updated on: October 12, 2016, 03:39h.

Valve threatens to shut down Counter-Strike skin gambling sites
Valve threatens to knock Counter-Strike skin gambling sites off the Steam platform if they don’t close up shop within ten days. (Image: Valve Corporation)

The Valve Corporation is making good on its word to dismantle the multi-billion dollar industry in skins gambling that has grown up around its hit video game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) over the past few years.

The games maker, which also owns the Steam distribution platform, has sent violation notices to 23 skin betting sites demanding that they cease gambling operations within 10 days or their Steam accounts will be terminated. The third-party gambling sites need to have access to the Steam marketplace in order to operate because they must transfer skins to and from their sites.

Valve had been accused of sanctioning the transfer of skins, rare collectible designer weapons in CS: GO, to third-party gambling sites, and even of profiteering from skin betting. At least two lawsuits have accused Valve of encouraging and facilitating underage gambling.  

The company had stayed silent on the issue until last week when it moved to distance itself from the gambling sites and deny that it had ever profited from them.

False Assumptions

Valve added a feature to Steam in 2011 that allowed users to trade items from games that had their own in-game economies, including CS: GO skins. But the idea that the company had sanctioned the transfer of these items to third-party websites was a “false assumption,” said Valve’s Erik Johnson.

Rather, the third-party sites had exploited the company’s OpenID application programming interface and were in direct violation of its terms and conditions.

Valve waited until it was threatened with lawsuits before acting, which still lays it open, perhaps, to accusations of questionable behavior, but the cease and desist letters show that the company is now very serious about taking down the industry.   

CSGOBig.com Complies

The contents of the letters were published by one of the sites targeted by Valve, CSGOBig.com, which informed its customers it was complying with the request to cease its gambling operations, at least temporarily.

“We are aware that you are operating one of the gambling sites listed below,” wrote Karl Quackenbash, general counsel to Valve Corporation. “You are using Steam accounts to conduct this business. Your use of Steam is subject to the terms of the Steam Subscriber Agreement (“SSA”).

“Under the SSA Steam and Steam services are licensed for persona, non-commercial use only,” it continued. “Your commercial use of Steam accounts is unlicensed and in violation of the SSA. You should immediately cease and desist further use of your Steam accounts for any commercial purposes. If you fail to do this within ten (10) days Valve will pursue all available remedies including without limitation terminating your accounts.”

“We are posting this as a PSA for everyone to be aware that other sites are affected too,” wrote CSGOBig.com. “And anyone who has items on other sites SHOULD withdraw them if they claim they will continue to operate.”