Several members of FaZe Clan, a hugely popular professional gaming team known for playing shooters, have been called out for a lack of disclosure on promotional videos for gambling site CSGO Wild. YouTuber HonorTheCall compiled evidence pointing to a previous obfuscation of the group's relationship to CSGO Wild in the video above, much of which has been addressed in a statement by the sponsor, which is set to shut down operations at the end of the week.
Among those involved are Noran "FaZe Rain" Shat, according to HonorTheCall, who previously helped expose YouTubers Trevor "Tmartn" Martin and Tom "Syndicate" Cassell as having an undisclosed stake in a site they promoted. Until recently, some of Shat's videos of his CSGO Wild winnings lacked notice that they had been sponsored by the gambling website, according to HonorTheCall. This would appear to be in violation of the Federal Trade Commission's guidelines for paid endorsements.
An archive shows that he has since changed the name of one video, first posted May 26, and updated its description to mention the sponsorship. That's more than a month after Bloomberg reported that the Global Offensive gambling scene generated billions in revenue, with minors often getting away with betting online. HonorTheCall suggests that the change came following the controversy surrounding Martin and Cassell earlier this month; the archive's next snapshot isn't until July 17, which shows the new title and disclosure. We've reached out to FaZe Clan for a response to these allegations and will update with more.
In a message posted on July 19, CSGO Wild co-owner Gagey detailed the site's relationship to FaZe Clan.
"After some back-and-forth, we worked out a SPONSORSHIP deal," he wrote. "Banks, Rain and a few other team members got paid in return for promotion," he wrote. "They were paid in cash, skins, and emeralds to be used to bet with on our website."
The deal ended when CSGO Wild blocked players from the United States to participate in coin flips and roulettes. That occurred toward the end of June, shortly after a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player lodged a lawsuit against Valve and similar sites for what he called "illegal gambling."
"After we chose to cease serving US users we began to cut ties with most of our US based influencers," Gagey said. "Not only did we stop working with the guys from FaZe over a month ago, but we also stopped working with a number of youtubers, streamers, and professional players at that time."
"Our promoters are paid to play on their own and simply entertain their fan bases"
A number of Shat's videos now feature language confirming CSGO Wild's sponsorship, but other members of FaZe Clan who uploaded videos of their success on the site have not updated their descriptions. These include FaZe Blaziken, another popular content creator in the group. Although he's not named explicitly in CSGO Wild's post, HonorTheCall alleged that Blaziken was one of the "other team members" whom the website sponsored. We've reached out to the YouTuber for confirmation.
CSGO Wild addressed other concerns raised by HonorTheCall in the video, including that FaZe Clan holds equity interest in the gambling community. Gagey refuted this claim, as well as allegations that the website rigged game results recorded in sponsored videos.
"CSGOWild has NEVER altered game results, provided 'future rolls' for promoters, nor have we done anything else of that nature,' Gagey said. "Our promoters are paid to play on their own and simply entertain their fan bases."
The note came just days before the site announced it would close down entirely. CSGO Wild is one of 23 websites ordered to cease and desist by Valve, which announced that it would be cracking down on websites that required players to login through Steam in order to gamble in-game items for monetary gain.
CSGO Wild will cease operations on July 23, a notice on its website states. Other betting communities ordered to close or face deletion include CSGO Lotto, owned by Martin and Cassell. A bet has not been placed on that site since July 8.
Correction: FaZe Clan is a professional esports teams, not a pro gaming league. The headline has been updated for clarity, and the story has been corrected to reflect this.