IN-FIGHTING IN E-SPORTS
CS:GO player sues owner of Steam platform for enabling an illegal online gambling market.
Theres rarely a dull moment in the eSports vertical these days, and this week its the story of a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player filing a legal action against Valve Software, parent company of the Steam eSports platform, which he alleges is enabling an illegal online gambling market.
The player, Michael John McLeod, claims in his court filing that Valve "knowingly allowed, supported, and/or sponsored illegal gambling by allowing millions of Americans to link their individual Steam accounts to third-party websites," specifying among others sites like CSGO Diamonds, OPSkins and CSGO Lounge, where players apparently can bet on match outcomes using weapon skins.
The McLeod suit claims that the weapons skins are bought and exchanged for real money, and that eSports operators and associated sites therefore handle them "like casino chips that have monetary value outside the game itself because of the ability to convert them directly into cash."
And, the filing claims further that these sites permit underage users to place illegal bets using this form of currency due to inadequate precautions and measures that should support strict age verification.
Through those websites, the suit says, skins for CS:GO, which can be purchased from Valve, "can … easily be traded and used as collateral for bets."
The skins business has been estimated by Bloomberg to be worth $2 billion annually and growing. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was released on consoles and PC platforms in August 2012. A year later, Valve released the "Arms Deal Update" for CS:GO, which added more than 100 decorative skins for players to collect, buy, sell and trade.
"People buy skins for cash, then use the skins to place online bets on pro CS:GO matches," Bloomberg reported earlier this year. "Because there’s a liquid market to convert each gun or knife back into cash, laying a bet in skins is essentially the same as betting with real money."
Furthermore, the suit adds that some such sites "[allow] minor users to place illegal bets," thanks to a lack of age verification.
McLeods legal representatives allege that Valve owns the [eSports] league, sells the casino chips and receives a cut of the casinos income stream through foreign websites, all the while maintaining a charade that it is not promoting or profiting from online gambling.
McLeod has invited others to join his US class action in seeking unspecified damages.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has sold more than 20 million copies, according to data from independent monitor SteamSpy. The game had more than 10 million unique players in the last month, according to Valve.