Valve issues cease and desist orders to more than 20 CS:GO gambling sites

The CS:GO skin gambling saga continues. After declaring it would start taking action against a list of alleged guilty parties last week, Valve has now cemented its intentions by issuing cease and desist orders to over 20 different gambling sites (including one Dota2 site) for using their Steam accounts for commercial purposes. In turn, this breaches the terms and conditions of the alleged offenders' Steam Subscriber Agreements. 

This has been a tricky story to follow, so allow me to recap: although skin gambling in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has existed for about three years, the topic was thrust into the spotlight just over two weeks ago when it emerged betting site CSGO Lotto was in fact owned by two YouTube personalities who’d previously promoted the site without obviously declaring their involvement. 

If you’re unfamiliar with how CS:GO betting works, I’d suggest checking out Evan’s detailed overview. As players play the game, they earn cases which, when opened, grants them randomised skins for their weapons. In order to open said cases, you’ll need to cough up actual money, and once acquired you can trade with other players. Ultimately the websites in question allow users to bet their skins against match outcomes, or use them to gamble in a variety of casino-style, browser-based games.

The short version is that Valve wants to stop this from happening, however to confuse matters further there’s also a concurrent case running against Valve—where one Michael John McLeod “believes the blame lies not with the many CS:GO betting sites, but with Valve for enabling and supporting their existence.” Whether this comes to anything is a matter of debate. Regardless, Valve has since denied any connection to gambling sites and last week announced plans to shut them down. (Evan also explored the impact this had on CS:GO skin prices.) 

Anyway, the list of guilty websites noted above in its entirety was tweeted out by esports person Wykrhm Reddy last night, and appeared to be corroborated hours later by one of the sites listed—CSGOBig—who attached Valve’s formal complaint. The letter is signed by Valve’s general councel Karl Quackenbush and reads as follows: 

“We are aware that you are operating one of the gambling sites listed below. You are using Steam accounts to conduct this business. Your use of Steam is subject to the terms of the Steam Subscriber Agreement ("SSA"). Under the SSA Steam and Steam services are licensed for personal, non-commercial use only. 

“Your commercial use of Steam accounts is unlicensed and in violation of the SSA. You should immediately cease and desist further use of your Steam accounts for any commercial purpose. If you fail to do this within ten (10) days Valve will pursue all available remedies including without limitation terminating your accounts.”

In response, CSGOBig suggests it is only “shutting down temporarily” and that it’ll “definitely be back soon." The wording of Valve’s pretty explicit order, though, might suggest otherwise.  

We’ve contacted Valve for further comment and will update as and when we hear back.