Three popular online gaming personalities have been lambasted by other members of the eSports YouTube scene and wider gaming community for promoting eSports betting site CSGO Lotto – without disclosing their ownership of it.
YouTubers and Twitch gamers TmarTn (Trevor Martin), ProSyndicate (Thomas Cassell) and JoshOG (Josh Beaver) are all officially associated with the CSGO Lotto corporation. Martin is current company director, Cassell vice-president, and Beaver secretary.
CSGO Lotto and the rise of eSports Skin Betting
CSGO Lotto is a Counter Strike: Global Operative eSports ‘skin betting’ site, where users can bet on prize pools of virtual items. CS:GO players can legally purchase skins for $2.50. However, the skin they randomly receive can vary in rarity. This means players view some as more valuable than others, though they technically cost the same.
CS:GO is one of the biggest eSports tournament games, and features in daily fantasy eSports, alongside big titles like League of Legends.
eSports betting is making serious revenue. According to a market research study from NewZoo, the industry “generated global revenue of $325 million in 2015 from media rights, merchandising, ticket sales and advertising” (CNBC).
CSGO Lotto itself does not deal in paid prizes. However, site users can sell skins for money on digital distribution platform Steam. Steam was developed by Valve Corporation, the company who created CS:GO.
Daily fantasy websites with paid games can only be played by users over 18 years old. On the other hand, anyone from 13 years old and up is able to use websites like CSGO Lotto to obtain skins. Indeed, CSGO Lotto users must have a Steam account in order to use the site.
‘They can control the outcome of every bet’
HonorTheCall has highlighted videos where Martin and Cassell claim to have won cash from CSGO Lotto. Both YouTubers have millions of subscribers, including teenagers.
Only Beaver had stated his association with CSGO Lotto in videos before other YouTubers started calling them out on the possibility of deceiving viewers.
Martin only confirmed his involvement via video months after actively promoting CSGO Lotto. He claimed ‘we found this new site’ for skin betting on his second YouTube channel (see this video, from 12:35m). He even discusses the possibility of getting a skin sponsorship deal with CSGO Lotto.
As h3h3 productions puts it: “Now why is this shady? Because if they own the site they have access to the backend of the website. They can control the outcome of every bet. They can fake the results for promoting videos.”
CS:GO Betting and Valve Corporation
Valve has also not escaped coming under fire for the CS:GO related scandal.
A family has created a lawsuit against Valve Corporation, on the grounds of helping create:
“An unregulated, international gambling concern with no oversight that targets teenagers”.
Michael John McLeod, on behalf of his children, has alleged in the lawsuit 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”.