The practice of Steam gambling has been in the news a lot lately, mostly due to some controversy with the CSGO Lotto website. The owners of the website were found promoting the site through their YouTube videos, without disclosing their ownership. And that’s a big no-no, everyone go sit in the naughty corner.
In response to this, Valve has issued a statement that distances themselves from these gambling websites, and announces their plans to
burn them to the ground issue cease and desist notices.
The statement by Erik Johnson reads:
In 2011, we added a feature to Steam that enabled users to trade in-game items as a way to make it easier for people to get the items they wanted in games featuring in-game economies.
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. 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.
These sites have basically pieced together their operations in a two-part fashion. First, they are using the OpenID API as a way for users to prove ownership of their Steam accounts and items. Any other information they obtain about a user’s Steam account is either manually disclosed by the user or obtained from the user’s Steam Community profile (when the user has chosen to make their profile public). Second, they create automated Steam accounts that make the same web calls as individual Steam users.
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. 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.
Although Valve clarifies that they don’t receive revenue from the gambling websites, they have undoubtedly profited from the sales of keys and weapon and item skins required for gambling. This is mentioned in a lawsuit brought against Valve earlier this year (thanks, Polygon) which alleges that Valve allowed these websites to continue operating, despite their shadiness. The major complaint against these websites is that they expose minors to gambling, as the digital content being wagered has a monetary value.
2016 seems to be a year of cracking down on internet-generated revenue streams, with the recent FTC case against Warner Bros. being another example.
Source: Steam News