Valve Cracks Down On Shady, Multi-Billion Dollar Counter-Strike Gambling Industry

Valve is attempting to wipe its hands clean of the lucrative gambling business that's developed around its Steam trading system and Counter Strike: Global Offensive game. The company says it will send send letters to gambling sites that use its Steam platform and request that they cease operations through its cloud-based gaming service.

"We’d like to clarify that we have no business relationships with any of these sites. We have never received any revenue from them. And Steam does not have a system for turning in-game items into real world currency," Valve's Erik Johnson stated in a blog post.

Counter Strike: Global Offensive

This has to do with a feature Steam rolled out in 2011 that enabled users to trade in-game items, or virtual decorated weapons known as skins. These virtual items exploded in popularity thanks to games like CS:GO, in which players can buy, sell, and trade skins. This in turn led to a thriving gambling scene that, according to Bloomberg, was expected to process $7.4 billion in bets this year. The site also claims that Valve was profiting on the sly from these gambling sites.

A recent lawsuit filed against Valve alleges that even though it doesn't facilitate the exchange of skins and money between players and gambling, it's been aware of the practice and even supported it by providing money, technical support, and advice to popular sites that let players use skins as betting chips, such as CSGO Lounge and CSGO Diamonds.

CSGO Diamonds

Valve denies the allegations saying "there's been some false assumptions" about its involvement with those sites. According to Valve, those sites are using Steam's OpenID API as a way for users to prove ownership of their Steam accounts and items. They're also creating automated Steam accounts that make the same web calls as individual Steam users, both of which run afoul of Steam's ToS.

"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," Valve said. "We are going to start sending notices to these sites requesting they cease operations through Steam, and further pursue the matter as necessary."

Valve also had a message for users who might have amassed large collections of skins, which is to take consideration of Valve's impending legal action and manage their inventories accordingly. In other words, their stashes of in-game goods are about to become a lot less valuable in the gambling community.