Last week the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community was shaken up when it was discovered that two popular players had published videos promoting CS:GO Lotto, a gambling website for valuable in-game items, without disclosing that they were the owners. While developer Valve remained silent during the fiasco, it has now come out and said that it will begin cracking down on these third-party sites that let users trade items for real money.
Part of the controversy around these sites is the fact that there was no real way to enforce age restrictions, meaning plenty of minors where using real money (likely their parents’) to bet on expensive CS:GO items.
Part of Valve’s statement is to clarify that it has no connection with these sites, and that they are essentially black markets. The developer doesn’t receive any money from them or profit in any way from their item lotteries.
It notes that while the Steam platform features a trading system for in-game items, there is no direct way to use this to make real world money. These gambling sites use a Steam API as a way to verify ownership of items and transfer them to sellers, in turn violating user agreements.
“These sites have basically pieced together their operations in two-part fashion. First, they are using the OpenID API as a way for users to prove ownership of their Steam accounts and items. Any other information they obtain about a user’s Steam account is either manually disclosed by the user or obtained from the user’s Steam Community profile (when the user has chosen to make their profile public). Second, they create automated Steam accounts that make the same web calls as individual Steam users.
Using the OpenID API and making the same web calls as Steam users to run a gambling business is not allowed by our API nor our user agreements. We are going to start sending notices to these sites requesting they cease operations through Steam, and further pursue the matter as necessary. Users should probably consider this information as they manage their in-game item inventory and trade activity.”