During the week of E3, nearly a month ago, a small scandal broke out in the Counter-Strike: Go community. Before popular personalities were found to actually be the owners of a gambling site they promoted, and before Valve made efforts to ban the industry entirely another high-profile pro player and CS:GO streamer was being put through the ringer. His story, and his alleged interactions with the gambling site called CSGO Diamonds, reveals more about the shady world of online gambling in games.
Some time ago professional Counter-Strike player and popular Twitch streamer Moe "m0E" Assad entered into an advertising relationship with CSGO Diamonds. That relationship soured in mid-June, and both CSGO Diamonds and Assad went to Twitter to accuse the other of improprieties.
Assad alleged, and CSGO Diamonds admits to, sharing secret information with Assad ahead of time, thereby allowing him to win games of chance in a predictable way live on his Twitch stream.
While he felt at the time that it was unethical, Assad has said publicly that he went along with the plan anyway. Later, when a disagreement between him and the owner of the gambling site became heated, CSGO Diamonds alleged that Assad threatened to expose the scheme. This attempt to threaten them, the site said, forced their hand into admitting their improprieties publicly and implicate Assad.
In a series of Tweets, CSGO Diamonds explained the situation from their perspective, and referred to their choice to reveal rolls for Assad "a bad decision." However, they wanted to make it clear that Assad’s willing role in the scam was irrefutable.
For his part, Assad said that he has never had another gambling site offer him inside information. He said that alone should have scared him away from the business relationship, and he has apologized publicly to his fans for letting them down.
When reached for comment, Assad pointed Polygon to an interview he conducted with eSports journalist and pundit Richard Lewis where he went into detail about the affair. That interview sheds even more light on the day-to-day interactions Assad has with sites like CSGO Diamonds, and may help inform how these types of business arrangements work behind the scenes.
Assad begins the interview by pointing out that he gets, on average, 15-to-20 emails from gambling sites like CSGO Diamonds every day. He’s commonly offered a share of the site’s revenue for a period of time. CSGO Diamonds, for instance, offered him 20 percent of their revenue for the first month and 10 percent every month after to regularly gamble live on his stream.
In addition, Assad says that sites like these commonly fill a streamer’s account with digital currency they can use to gamble. When the account runs low, they simply flip a switch to add more.
"On other sites I have huge balances I can pull out at any time," Assad told Lewis. "Anything I can win, I can keep."
Those winnings, he said, can include more digital currency or valuable CS:GO skins, which can be sold for real-world money.
Assad admits, however, that winning big is rare and the act of accepting inside information to inflate his winning percentage was a bad decision in this instance.
"I did know it was wrong," he told Lewis. "It was 100 percent my fuck-up. Looking back, I regret the whole partnership with CSGO Diamonds."
Assad went on to defend himself and the act of promoting gambling during his streams, and talked about his efforts to personally profit from it more often going forward.
"When I’m streaming and there’s time to kill, that’s my way to kill it. That’s what I do on stream when I’m trying to kill time is gamble. You can only gamble so much and win. You’re always going to lose if you keep going. So [lately] I try to be better with it. Where now, when I have a lot of money saved up, I like to keep it. People who watch my stream have noticed that I’ve been pulling a lot more from my inventory for giveaways, and even to sell some stuff."
But Assad also received other compensation for his work on CSGO Diamond’s behalf. His total severance — not his total income for the several month’s work, mind you, but just the severance — was reported to be more than 170 Bitcoin.
At today’s prices, that’s more than $112,000 in transferable, untraceable electronic currency.
As of this morning, CSGO Diamonds is offline.