Valve has begun issuing warnings to players to not use the high-profile CSGO Lotto website for the game Counter Strike: Global Offensive on Steam, after it was discovered that the said website was founded by some Youtube stars.
The two stars in question, Trevor Martin and Tom Cassell, better known as “TmarTn” and “Syndicate” respectively, have been listed as the president and vice president of CSGO Lotto, according to the h3h3productions report. The two youtube stars, with a combined 10 million fanbase, never disclosed their ownership of the website, which has led to speculation that the two stars may have been cheating the system at worst.
The issue comes from documentation uncovered by a fellow youtube channel, HonorTheCall, that uncovered the documentation regarding Martin and Cassell’s ownership of the CSGO Lotto. The information has since been picked up by h3h3productions, who did a lengthy exposé showcasing both Martin and Cassell “winning” at the Lotto on several occasions.
CSGO Lotto is one of many sites that allow players to bet real world money or skins for a chance at winning virtual Counter Strike: Global Offensive Skins. The skins – which can be earned in the game by paying $2.50 for an unlock key that grants a random item – are often sold for large sums of money, sometimes upwards of $10,000 dollars. The winner, selected by a roulette wheel spin, receives a specific item gambled upon, while the website itself takes a cut of the bets.
Both Martin and Cassell have posted videos of not only using the CSGO Lotto website, but of winning on them, including a playlist of videos featuring the Lotto website. Those videos have since been taken down on Youtube. Both Martin and Cassell denied that the videos of them winning on the website were staged, and while admitting to ownership of the CSGO Lotto, have claimed that at the time of those recordings they were not a part of the company, which is contradicted by the records obtained by HonorTheCall.
In response to the entire controversy, Cassell has since apologized to fans on Twitter who felt they were misled by him. He, however, has been indicated in previous scandals before – promoting the game Dead Realm on his youtube channel without disclosing ties to the game’s developer, 3BlackDot.
I apologize to anyone who feels mislead regarding the ownership of @CSGOLotto. I will always be more transparent from here on out!
— Mr.Syndicate (@ProSyndicate) July 4, 2016
Valve has issued a warning to anyone using the website on Steam as the scandal has slowly emerged. Any attempts to log into the CSGO Lotto website through Steam are given a notice by Valve that the website has been blocked because the website “may be engaged in phishing, scamming, spamming, or delivering malware.” However, players can still click through to the website at their own risk for the time being.
Valve has come under fire for online gambling in recent years. A class action lawsuit has been launched against Valve because it facilitates gambling; with Valve providing a “grey market” where people can be easily ripped off via betting, trading and scammers. Because of the easy access to children and teens, real money gambling is a serious offense, and the lawsuit against Valve argues that the gaming company is purposely encouraging gambling because of the profits it can generate, with some estimates stating online gaming rakes in close to $2.3 billion a year in betting and skin purchasing on Steam.
Update: Valve has apparently removed the warning entirely. According to a reddit post by a volunteer moderator named KillaInstinct explained that the CSGO Lotto website was flagged by a fellow moderator and given the warning, without consulting fellow moderators. According to KillaInstinct, “The URL blacklist is generally only used for malicious* links and blocks links throughout Steam everywhere and therefore used with extreme caution.” Malicious, in this context, means malware and phishing websites, not a website such as CSGO Lotto, despite the description notes scamming as a possible reason for the warning block.
It should also be noted that a third Youtuber, known as PsiSyndicate, has come forward and revealed that he participated in rigged SteamLottos in exchange for promotion of that website. The story, reported by TechRaptor’s Brandon Bobal, can be found here.
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