A Counter-Strike Player Is Suing Valve Over Skin Trading And Gambling

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Valve by a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player in the United States, with the latter alleging that the corporation has "knowingly allowed an illegal online gambling market" to foster through its in-game economy of skins and the trading and gambling sites that have opened around them.

Documents for the case have been posted online by Polygon. Michael John McLeod, who filed the lawsuit, didn't specify an amount for damages but is seeking to win punitive damages, as well as compensation for "damages suffered" from the purchasing and gambling of skins from 2014.

"[Valve] has thus unjustly enriched itself in retaining the revenues derived from enforcement of illegal contracts, deposits, wagers, purchases and gambling by Plaintiff and the members of the proposed class, which retention under these circumstances is unjust and inequitable because Defendant entered into or caused to be created illegal, voidable, and unconscionable gambling contracts with Plaintiff and other members of the proposed class, and has created an illegal international gambling economy operating in the United States and targeted at teenagers," the case alleges.

McLeod has also quoted from a conference in 2014 when a Valve employee was quoted as saying that the creation and trading of virtual items was the best way to encourage growth and monetisation of a game.

This was a deliberate strategy on Valve’s part: one of its employees explained at a developer’s conference in 2014 that the company determined that the "best way to get players deeply engaged in games ... was to give away virtual items of random value and encourage a robust market to trade them." That employee was quoted as saying: "This is not an accident.
This is by design. We see more blogs popping up and more and more emails from our players saying, ‘I’m not really sure what happened but I’ve been playing DotA for the last week or two, and I made $100 selling these items that I got.’ This is hugely successful for us."

I've reached out to Valve for a response. You can read the full case filing here.


    I gambled and lost, it's not my fault.

      And Valve have facilitated underage gambling for years, but I guess it's easier to mock an individual than it is to recognise a problem.

      Edit: It's been pointed at that arguing faciliation is a bridge too far, and I agree. Read below for a broader argument.

      Last edited 24/06/16 4:20 pm

        How has valve facilitated the gambling? Valve does not run the gambling sites, Nor to they encourage them.

        Thats like saying the Australian Mint actively facilitates Casinos

          Beat me to the punch!

          This. Exactly this. If someone is running an illegal poker game, you don't go after the manufacturer of the chips they are using. Valve have simply created a currency, it's others that have turned that currency towards gambling.


          To both of you, I concede that facilitation was a strong term and not an ideal representation of the matter.

          Edit: Wall of text deleted, not going to argue a tenuous case on a Friday arvo.

          Last edited 24/06/16 4:28 pm

            Edit: Wall of text deleted, not going to argue a tenuous case on a Friday arvo.

            Well played sir! Good choice,

            Your assertion that valve was facilitating it was incorrect yes, The only thing valve could really do is impose trade limits and ban bot accounts associated with the websites.

            Otherwise its up to the respective countries these gambling sites are hosted in to police them. Valve has no responsibility.

        And banks have been facilitating drug sales because I transfer money into my drug dealers account.
        And whomever processes payment for child porn rings.
        And whomever mines the metal that is used in bullets in shootings
        and on and on

        Yes, it's easy to mock an individual and correct in this case. If you are of sound mind enough to file a lawsuit you are of sound mind enough to know that gambling is something you don't usually come out of ahead.

    There's more to it than that. There are rules and regulations around gambling in most countries which I assume Valve are bypassing right now.

    If for instance tomorrow they allowed people to place bets on CS games, shouldn't they be bound by the same laws and receive the same scrutiny as other gambling sites?

    Meant to reply to @darren

    Last edited 24/06/16 2:47 pm

      If valve is acting as a book maker, then yes they need to be held responsible and follow the laws.
      But if valve is supporting a game people bet on, thats a different story

      Oh I agree with you. But valve have nothing to do with it.

      There are shady sites where you can give them your steam wallet credentials and gamble with skins or money. One of the computer teachers here asked us to block them as some kids were using them. They are clearly shady and not endorsed by Valve.

      An example would be signing into an illegal online poker site, giving them your bank details and gambling, then suing your bank.

        Its a bit scary that there really isnt a regulatory committee out there to monitor this sort of stuff as its rather 'new' and can often fall into multiple categories making it more confusing which is why people from a legal perspective are hesitant to deal with them.
        I think people need an awareness campaign or something to help them identify these sites and what they are offering (and asking for).
        Places like William hill, uni bet, sports bet are all legal betting agencies for e-sports then there are places like Unikrn who not only deal with real money but specializes in skins and in game items as currency but all of these have something in common, they are not valve.

          Could they do much though?

          I'm pretty sure these sites would not comply with any regulatory stuff even if it existed. They pop up on some overseas server and there is not really much to be done with it.

    It is clearly shown when you sign into these gambling/skin marketplace sites that they are not affiliated with Valve or Steam.

      do you know if the majority (or all) of these sites requires 18+ age limits, i havnt looked too much into that side of the 3rd party bookies

        Also true! When using these sites you have to acknowledge that you are over the age of 18. these sites also state that "You agree that you are responsible for all activities that occur on your account or through the use of your password by yourself or by other persons."

    What am I not surprised that he's American.

    What's with Americans and suing?

    This is a flimsy case at best. Yes, Valve have encouraged a marketplace to form for people selling the items to each other. As quoted, this was their intention.

    What they haven't done is host sites where you can gamble with those items rather than directly purchasing them. Those are all 3rd parties over which Valve has no control.

    Whether or not Valve should actively seek out and ban players who are gambling, who knows.

    Last edited 24/06/16 3:35 pm

    It's against the Steam Subscriber Agreement to do anything with marketplace items that is not through the Steam service itself. You may not trade them, buy them from places like G2A, anything outside of Steam's own marketplace system. Not only does Valve not facilitate external sites, they will suspend your account if you're found to have traded items through them.

    If that's the basis of this guy's case, he's already lost.

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