Last year saw CS:GO developer Valve embroiled in a skins betting scandal, and whilst this rages on, it seems that another of its titles Team Fortress 2 is now on the hit-list too.
Whilst Valve issued cease and desist letters to upwards of 40 sites offering gambling on its skins (in-game items) in some form last summer, claims that ‘skins gambling is dead’ are false. It’s been badly wounded, and operates far from the unbelievable numbers involved in late 2015 and early 2016, but it’s not done yet.
If you’re yet to read much in-depth about the volume of skins wagering that was taking place, then the following is all you need to remember. A report by Narus Advisors and Esports Betting Report found that CSGO Lounge took in “103 million skins, or the USD equivalent of $1 billion in handle, in the first seven months of 2016.”
The Lounges sites continue to operate but have now switched to a new business model and strategy.
It was the involvement of the Washington State Gambling Commission that seemed to lead to Valve being a little more heavy handed when it comes to closing down such sites. Part of the WSGC’s letter to the developer stated that it must “take whatever actions are necessary to stop third party websites from using their skins for gambling”.
A response to this however, by Valve’s legal counsel Liam Lavery, was forthright in its assertion that “Valve is not engaged in gambling or the promotion of gambling, and we do not “facilitate” gambling”.
So why has Valve now shifted some of its attention on Team Fortress 2? Last week an announce on the TF2 site from Valve said: “In July of last year we outlined our position on gambling web sites, specifically noting that Valve has no business relationship with these sites. At that time we also began blocking many CSGO gambling accounts. You can view the original post here.
“More recently, some gambling web sites started leveraging TF2 items. Today we began the process of blocking TF2 gambling accounts as well. We recommend you don’t trade with these sites.”
The numbers are undoubtedly not akin to the staggering figures on CS:GO but it remains an issue. As reported by Esports Betting Report, the general way forward must be for a proper regulatory framework to be created around skins. There is an appetite for it, and news that the UKGC is seemingly open to establishing a licence for skin gambling operators should make for exceptionally happy reading for operators.