Someone is suing Valve for running an “illegal online gambling market”, and it’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

By Brenna Hillier
24 June 2016 03:41 GMT

That’s not how I would have described Valve’s premiere eSports shooter, but they make a good case.

counter-strike global offensive

Valve has been accused of knowingly facilitating and profiting from an illegal online gaming market in a fascinating new lawsuit.

According to Polygon‘s report, the suit argues the trading of weapon skins in bets on Counter-strike: Global Offensive matches is akin to real money gambling; because the skins can be cashed in for money, they act like casino chips.

Update: I thought this was about betting on the outcome of the match, but it’s actually about gambling on the contents of the loot crates. You live and learn.

This isn’t something you do directly through Steam, but Valve’s API allows users to link their accounts to third-party websites where this sort of thing goes on. The suit alleges many of these sites make no age verification attempts, meaning underage players can participate. As ludicrous as it sounds, this is a real enough issue that Bloomberg ran a report describing it as a $2.3 billion business.

Not only has Valve “allowed and been complicit in creating, sustaining and facilitating” this market, it profits from the practice; the company takes a cut of all transactions through Steam’s Marketplace.

“Valve owns the league, sells the casino chips, and receives a piece of the casino’s income stream through foreign websites in order to maintain the charade that Valve is not promoting and profiting from online gambling, like a modern-day Captain Renault from Casablanca,” the suit argues. Unusually eloquent for legalities, isn’t it?

The plaintiff says he himself purchased Counter-Strike: Global offensive skins to gamble, both as a minor and an adult, and lost money. He’s seeking unspecified damage, and his lawyers are angling for class-action status, which could be painfully expensive for Valve.

Visit Polygon to view the full complaint and read more about the case.

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