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Valve threatened by Washington State Gambling Commission

CS:GO skins controversy continues for the Steam platform holder

Despite the fact that Valve has already come out against gambling on Steam and issued cease-and-desist notices to numerous third-party gambling sites, the Steam operator has found itself in hot water with the Washington State Gambling Commission, which regulates gambling activities in Valve's home state. The Commission has said that Valve is responsible for the unregulated Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling that's gone on through Steam and has ordered Valve to take immediate action.

The Commission said in a press release today that it actually notified Valve back in February of this year and that illegal skins have continued to be used for illegal gambling. "All third party gambling sites have Steam accounts and use the Steam platform to conduct their gambling transactions. These gambling transactions are automated and performed by a software program or 'bot,' and have proliferated so much that a recent market report by Esports Betting Report indicates that one specific gambling website, CSGO Lounge, brought in approximately $1 billion in 'skin' gambling between January 1st and, August 1st this year alone," the Commission explained.

The organization has given Valve a deadline of October 14 "to respond and explain how it is in full compliance with Washington's gambling laws or it will risk having the Gambling Commission take additional civil or criminal action against the company."

Furthermore, commissioner Chris Stearns said that because of the eSports relationship to the gambling that underage illegal gambling has also become a concern. "In Washington, and everywhere else in the United States, skins betting on eSports remains a large, unregulated black market for gambling. And that carries great risk for the players who remain wholly unprotected in an unregulated environment," he commented. "We are also required to pay attention to and investigate the risk of underage gambling which is especially heightened in the eSports world. It is our sincere hope that Valve will not only comply but also take proactive steps to work with the Commission on future measures that will benefit the public and protect consumers."

Valve has already been issued a lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida, which alleges that the company "knowingly allowed ... and has been complicit in creating, sustaining and facilitating [a] market where players and third-parties trade weapon skins like casino chips."

For its part, Valve's Erik Johnson said back in July 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."

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James Brightman

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James Brightman has been covering the games industry since 2003 and has been an avid gamer since the days of Atari and Intellivision. He was previously EIC and co-founder of IndustryGamers and spent several years leading GameDaily Biz at AOL prior to that.

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