Valve closure of skin betting access a 'brave decision'

Valve closure of skin betting access a 'brave decision'

Thursday, July 14, 2016
Ian Smith has welcomed Valve's move to restrict skin betting via its API

ESIC, the new body set up to protect the integrity of esports, has welcomed the decision by Valve to clamp down on people using its site for skin betting transactions.

Valve owns and operates the Steam distribution portal and games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, through which some groups have been offering books using in-game items as money. Given these in-game items have a real world value, the potential for scandal and corruption is high.

This is probably why Valve has said that it will enforce its Terms of Service for Steam’s API which allowed these sites to operate and that it will request skin betting sites such as CSGO Lotto and CS:GO Diamonds to stop offering gambling on their games.

ESIC esports Integrity Commissioner Ian Smith said it was the correct decision, despite some of the negatives for the company. He told TotallyGaming.com: “ESIC welcomes Valve’s decision regarding use of its open API by skins betting sites. It’s a brave decision given the impact this will certainly have on CS:GO viewing and engagement in particular, but the right thing to do.”

ESIC was launched last month to try and address issues such as match fixing that may occur as the opportunities to bet on esports increase. Among its membership is Unikrn, Sportradar and Betway.

Smith said there was a way forward for skin betting, but suggested the current structure was way too loose. “The esports industry, particularly on the CS:GO side, will need to work with Valve and, possibly, those skins betting operations that want to operate in a regulated licensed environment, to address the genuine commercial issues raised by this decision yesterday. ESIC would welcome involvement in any such discussion to ensure any decisions reached maintain the sports’ integrity."

Valve spokesperson Erik Johnson broke the news yesterday in an issued statement explaining the company’s stance on the practice: “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.”

Totally Gaming Says: “The unregulated practice of skin betting might have just started as a bit of fun, but has now ballooned into a business where US7.4bn is wagered every year. The fact that this is done without real visibility or any of the safeguards that the regulated betting industry provides (such as age and fraud checks) means the potential for bad outcomes is much higher. Valve’s decision may seem extreme, but it may be the first step to making the skin betting sector safer.”

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