The Washington State Gambling Commission has ordered Valve to end online gambling of in-game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive items — by removing the ability to exchange them altogether.
Valve Founder and CEO Gabe Newell has already ordered his company to employ Cease & Desist notices to gambling outlets using CS:GO weapon skins as a form of currency. Unfortunately, this has only had marginal effect in stemming the tide.
The Washington State Gambling Commission isn’t satisfied. As of October 5th, 2016, they have “notified Valve Corporation that it must immediately stop allowing the transfer of virtual weapons known as ‘skins’ for gambling activities through the company’s Steam Platform.”
The commission’s press release recalls information from the Esports Betting Report as an example, citing the reported $1 billion that the “CSGO Lounge” betting site gained between January and August 2016 alone. It’s a serious problem — not the least of which is due to the fact that children are especially vulnerable to a video-game based gambling system that can be easily accessed on the internet, as opposed to a restricted brick-and-mortar location in an area where such activity is legal.
The problem is that this would require Valve to entirely dismantle its Counter-Strike item marketplace, which is in and of itself harmless. It allows for players to buy, sell, and trade in-game cosmetic rewards received from crates awarded through gameplay. Washington State is attempting to force Valve to forfeit legitimate business because of exploitation that exists outside their ability to control.
It’s hard to see how this could result in any sort of change — it reeks of bureaucracy with limited understanding of the platform and its activities. But unless Valve does suspend its marketplace entirely, it’s just as difficult to see how this problem could be addressed in any effective manner.
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