Valve Says They Will Start Cracking Down On Gambling Sites That Use Steam

Valve Says They Will Start Cracking Down On Gambling Sites That Use Steam

During last week’s big Counter-Strike gambling scandal (and really just in general, where gambling is concerned), Valve remained conspicuously silent. Now, though, they have said that they’re going to start telling gambling sites to cease operations entirely. In a statement on Steam, Valve business authority Erik Johnson wrote:

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.

He added that Valve does not have business relationships with any Counter-Strike gambling sites, and that they have never directly received revenue from them.

It remains to be seen how long it takes Valve to crack down, not to mention how hard they slam the hammer. For now, though, this seems like quite a big step. While some people were calling for regulation, Valve seems to have jumped straight to obliteration. It makes sense, though: This kind of thing verges on illegal even on its best days, and lawsuits have begun to trickle in. Valve has a storied history of acting when lawsuits enter the picture.

How do you feel about this news? Do you gamble in Counter-Strike or other games? If so, why? Have you won a bunch? Or have you lost a whole lot, only to keep pulling the creaky lever on the elevator to financial hell? Feel free to share your stories!


  • I’ll gamble on pulling a legendary or useful card on Hearthstone or in MTG… but that’s about it.

    I’ve never seen the point in gambling in general, especially on the pokies, which to someone like me who’s never really seen much more than a youtube vid here or there on these CSGO skin sites, essentially seems to be exactly the same thing.

    Valve’s obliteration response, is the correct choice imo. All that these sites are doing is encouraging gambling in a space where faking ones age is as simple as a couple of keystrokes.

    If the mainstream media outlets get a hold of or understand this story at all, could you imagine the backlash and the negative media that they would put upon all of us gamer’s. Generalization is their greatest tool against what they do not understand, and we all know that if given the chance to bash on the gaming industry/ culture mainstream media 100% will.

  • they have never directly received revenue from them

    The key word here is “directly” – according the Bloomberg article, US$2.3billion worth of CS:GO skins were traded in 2015. Valve takes a flat 15% on any skins traded, so that’s $345million that they skimmed from skins trading and most of that is probably from these gambling sites.

    Although Valve didn’t get any revenue ‘directly’ from skins gambling, banning them is definitely going to sting them a little.

    • I’m not sure how it works in CS:GO, but wouldn’t they only take the 15% off the original purchase (or resale)? So once an item enters the betting pool, it can keep circulating indefinitely provided it’s never cashed out? Even then, I’d imagine a fair chunk of those items are going to have been from unwanted drops in games, so the hit to Valve’s revenue is going to be significantly smaller than that.

      • It’s like mixing your casino winnings with your stock portfolio. Gamble with your skins and win and then push those into the market and trade. Then keep doing so until you have quite the value on your hands and then cash out on some other third party skin buying website.

        Then yeah during all the ‘legit stock market trades’, Valve get their cut every single time.

        • Right, but the article seems to suggest that these betting sites transfer skins as user-to-user trades (i.e. not the market place), which incur no commission. If you have a skin worth $10 and it changes hands 10 times through these user-to-user trades, then that represents $100 of trade volume with no money going to Valve. It’s only when you try to convert away from a tradeable good that the commissions kick in.

          • well yeah if you trade off-market then valve gets no cut. However I think it’d be really hard to prove that users/gamblers are exclusively doing either one or the other. I think it’s pretty reasonable to believe that a great deal of the product moving through these gambling sites has been recycled through Valves own market at least once.

          • And the statement from Valve reproduced in the article is saying that the gambling sites work through off-market trades.

            They have Steam accounts that are driven by bots that look to Valve like a user clicking buttons in their web browser. To participate in a bet on the site, a user would trade items to one of these bots, and if they won the bot would trade the winnings back to them. So a user could make many bets, winning and losing items and only generate a commission for Valve if they decided to cash out to Steam wallet credit.

    • They directly run the system that makes the very idea of these gambling sites attractive. It’s no different from saying that the company that made Beanie Babies didn’t directly receive revenue from their products crazy speculative value, same with Nike and Adidas with their limited editions that feed into the tremendously successful shoe-trading market.

    • I was hoping someone else other than me picked up that key word – the word directly makes a huge difference in context here

  • Feel great about the news… but not its delivery.

    Valve is responding slow, states its against user agreements but has never done anything about it until now. They only ever worry about the Agreements if it adversly effects them… not their users.

    The silence for so long and finally response wuestions the true motive, was it the contorversy, the recent law suit, the possible FTC investigation since they finshed with Warner Bros… or is it just because Rocket League developer yesterday refused to sell items in their store.

    Only thing that effects Valve is if the publishers and developers refuse to use them. They dont care about users… unless the developers care.

  • Good. This was essentially unregulated gambling targeted at children. I have no huge issue with the valve market place for items, but skins essentially became chips at a casino for kids to play slot machines.

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