Valve is cracking down on third-party websites that use Steam to facilitate gambling, the company said in a statement today. Valve's announcement that it will begin sending cease-and-desist notices to such sites comes after weeks of controversy in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community surrounding several popular item-gambling services.
"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's Erik Johnson said in a statement. "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."
Steam first added in-game item trading features in 2011, according to Valve. It's since been made popular by games like CS:GO, which lets players buy, sell and trade virtual items such as weapon skins.
"Since then a number of gambling sites started leveraging the Steam trading system, and there’s been some false assumptions about our involvement with these sites," Valve said. "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."
Sites like CSGO Lotto, CSGO Lounge and CSGO Diamonds have recently come under fire, thanks to a lawsuit filed by a player against the owners of these sites and Valve Corporation. The suit alleges that Valve was "complicit in creating, sustaining and facilitating [a] market" allowing players, including minors, to bet weapon skins in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Prior to their inclusion in the lawsuit, the owner and vice president of CSGO Lotto, popular YouTubers Trevor "Tmartn" Martin and Tom "Syndicate" Cassell, respectively, were exposed as having promoted their website without disclosing their business involvement. Others have since admitted to having similar relationships and sponsorships with Global Offensive betting sites that were not stated outright, in seeming violation of the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines.
Valve has stayed quiet about its involvement in the suit until now, with some critics calling out the company for its silence. How Valve’s plan to shut down betting sites that use the in-game trading feature on Steam will affect the lawsuit is not yet known.