The Washington State Gambling Commission on Wednesday, October 5, 2016, sent a cease and desist order to the Valve corporation, ordering the gaming publisher to stop the rampant use of their in-game skins and items for gambling purposes on third-party sites.
In a press release, the commission is giving Valve until October 14 to halt the transfer of in-game skins for the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive that allows users to use these digital goods as currency for gambling activities. Failure to meet the deadline might result in civil and criminal charges levied on the publisher.
The commission reiterated that it expects Valve to fully comply with the order, noting that it is incumbent upon the company to take, “whatever actions are necessary to stop third-party websites from using ‘skins’ for gambling through its Steam Platform system…”
Said Chris Stearns, Washington State Gambling Commissioner in the same statement:
“In Washington, and everywhere else in the United States, skins betting on esports remains a large, unregulated black market for gambling. And that carries great risk for the players who remain wholly unprotected in an unregulated environment. We are also required to pay attention to and investigate the risk of underage gambling which is especially heightened in the esports world.
“It is our sincere hope that Valve will not only comply but also take proactive steps to work with the Commission on future measures that will benefit the public and protect consumers.”
On July 13, Valve’s Erik Johnson responded to claims that valve benefits from third-party sites who run what are essentially online roulette and betting operations using CS:GO skins as online currency with a promise that Valve will be sending cease-and-desist notices to errant websites.
The response came at the heels of massive media attention to the world of online skins gambling. Popular entertainers on the YouTube website Trevor ‘TmarTn‘ Martin and Tom ‘ProSyndicate‘ Cassell were earlier implicated to have been using their channels to promote CSGOLotto, a site where anyone with a Steam account can enter their skins and bet it on odds. CSGOLotto, together with many sites like it, offer little to no protection or age-verification to access it.
By July 20, some 27 CS:GO betting sites were shutdown for violating the terms and service agreements of the Steam Platform.
In his statement, Erik Johnson reiterated that Valve, “”no business relationships with any of these sites” and has “never received any revenue from them.”
Valve Corporation, which is based in Bellevue, Washington, falls under the jurisdiction of the Washington State Gambling Commission.