Counter-Strike Gambling Story Is the Biggest Gaming Controversy of 2016

On June 27th?YouTuber HonorTheCall?uploaded a video calling out three other YouTubers. Although at the time it didn’t seem like much more than traditional?YouTube?drama, this would set in motion one of this year’s biggest stories.

The video in question shed light on a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive scandal that has been going on for more than a year. Although the initial revelation would gain some momentum within the gaming community, now clocked in at nearly 300,000 total views, it was only a small fraction of the total visibility that the story would receive over the following days.

It wouldn’t be until July 3rd?that YouTuber h3h3Productions would upload a video on the subject matter after some investigation of his own. The video was titled “Deception, Lies, and CSGO”, and it broke the story open for the mainstream. At this point, there was no going back. In a matter of three days the video received more than 3.6 million views, and tens of thousands of comments.

h3h3Productions’ video set the story on fire.

As the story goes, there are two individuals who call themselves Tmartn and ProSyndicate. Both of them are known friends who have had huge success with YouTube, achieving millions upon millions of views over the past couple years. They have gained their popularity by making videos centered around Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a game that is not only prized for its huge community, but its weapon skins.

These weapon skins vary in quality and rarity, and are obtained through $2.49 microtransactions that produce random drops. This quality, in combination with rare drops being highly sought after, has resulted in remarkable value for many Counter-Strike: Global Offensive?skins. In many cases skins go for between $5 to $50. However, there are particularly rare and in some cases limited edition items that fetch between $2,000 and upward of $10,000.

Given their real-world value, many Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players use them as a means for betting and gambling. During the past two years dozens of betting sites have popped up which allow players to either gamble their skins against other players in coin flip and roulette style configurations. It’s said that this method of gambling skins is so popular that it is responsible for over $3 billion dollars in transactions during the past two years.

Tmartn?and?ProSyndicate?have published dozens of videos where they show themselves winning money through gambling Counter-Strike: Global Offensive?skins, and sometimes encouraging viewers to visit the site they used. In every case, these videos show them using a site that they personally owned without disclosing such information.

Tmartn is one of several individuals embroiled in controversy.

While some people have focused on the probability that Tmartn and ProSyndicate could have adjusted the system to allow themselves to win money more easily, even if that’s not the case what they have done is against the law. It is mandatory that their ownership is disclosed publicly, yet they didn’t do so until after they were called out. In addition, it’s completely unethical for someone who runs a gambling business to use their own service, especially to promote traffic.

It’s been a long time coming, and this calls for a re-evaluation of how digital items are regulated. It’s one thing to allow for real-market value of items to be traded, but Valve has made no effort to prevent unregulated gambling. Not only have thousands of minors become addicted to gambling, but millions of transactions have gone untaxed.

The news has sent?shockwaves?through the internet. Websites which have covered the story include?International Business Times,?Yahoo,?ESPN,?Forbes, and?Fortune. Discussion has been popular, with the video?hitting the front page of?Reddit,?forum threads?accounting for more than 500,000 views, and?#csgobetting?trending on Twitter.

It’s unclear what will happen to Tmartn and ProSyndicate, let alone the many others who are likely doing the same thing. An AMA on Reddit?featuring three lawyers makes it appear to be a complicated subject that has no definitive outcome.

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