Games giant Valve bars $7.4bn skins gambling market

14 July 2016

Games developer Valve, the company that owns and operates the Steam distribution portal and titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO), has banned gambling sites from offering their products through its platform.

The company has acted after it became the subject of legal proceedings, including a class action lawsuit, due to it allowing so-called skins gambling – which had been expected to generate $7.4 billion (€6.7 billion) in bets this year - through its OpenID API (application protocol interface).

A lawsuit filed last month on behalf of Connecticut resident Michael John McLeod alleged that Valve and third-party sites CSGO Diamonds, CSGO Lounge and OPSkins "knowingly allowed, supported, and/or sponsored illegal gambling by allowing millions of Americans to link their individual Steam accounts to third- party websites". Through those websites, the suit says, skins for CS:GO, which can be purchased from Valve, "can easily be traded and used as collateral for bets”.

Valve said it will enforce the rules of its terms of service and request that all gambling sites immediately cease offering their services through OpenID.

“We’d like to clarify that we have no business relationships with any of these sites,” said Erik Johnson, a company spokesman, in a statement. “We are going to start sending notices to these sites requesting they cease operations through Steam.”

“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.”

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