YouTube stars ProSyndicate and TmarTn have been caught with their pants down after it comes to light that they have been skin betting on a gambling site they own without full disclosure.
Rahul Sood is the founder of Unikrn, the leading eSports betting service on the interweb. So when he stood up at an eSports Betting Summit in London and expressed his concern over the unregulated growth of skin betting, he had my attention.
You see, Sood is not only a video game nut, but he is also a father, and it was a discussion with his 13-year old son about skin betting on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) that prompted Sood to dig a little deeper. After the dirt had been cleared Sood found, via Eilers Research, that punters wagered $800m on skin betting in 2015 compared to $250m wagered on the standard eSports odds market.
“Betting skins is already huge,” Sood told the audience, “and it’s about to get bigger.”
How right he was.
Gambling industry analyst, Chris Grove, pointed out on Twitter that the latest numbers from Eilers Research on skin betting in 2016 put the total handle at $5bn.
Sood saw three major issues with skin betting.
1. A lack of oversight
2. Limited visibility into the companies and products
3.The game design itself emphasises simplicity
A lack of oversight leads to the potential for minors to gamble. The simplicity of the game design, and it’s Roulette look and feel, make it highly addictive. And there is obviously a huge demand for it.
Talking about the industry Sood said: “It’s a total mess. The fact is that illegal betting is happening at a rampant rate, and it’s dangerous. Hopefully, we will grab the attention of some influential folks to do something about this.”
And that’s what is happening right at this very moment.
What is Counter-Strike?
In August 1999, a group of game designers got together and used the software technology from one of the most popular games of all time, Half-Life, and created a multi-player shooter. They called themselves the CS Team. They called the game Counter-Strike.
The game became a cult hit, mainly because it was free, and people would take their desktops and travel all over the globe to compete in LAN tournaments. The game was acquired by video game developer Valve Corporation in 2000.
In 2012, the most recent version of the game was released with the name Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). With 27% of total hours viewed on Twitch spent on Shooters such as CS:GO it quickly became a popular eSport.
One year later, and Valve released a new Arms Deal Update that allowed CS:GO players to earn and trade over 100 new weapons through Steam’s Trading interface. Player’s find arms in two types of crates dropped randomly during the game. You have to purchase a special key to open them, and some of the money from the eSports crates goes towards professional tournaments.
These weapons became known as skins.
Third party operators understood the value they would bring and started to create gambling sites where skin owners could hang out and flip a coin against other players with their skins on the line.
Michael John McLeod Versus Valve Corporation
Michael John McLeod shares Rahul Sood’s view that skin betting is dodgy as f*ck and that someone needs to raise awareness of the issue, only he didn’t write a blog post, or take the podium as a keynote speaker to talk about it. Mcleod took out a Class Action Lawsuit against the game’s developers Valve Corporation claiming, amongst other things, that they:
– Knowingly allowed, supported, and/or sponsored illegal gambling by allowing millions of Americans to link to their individual Steam accounts to third party websites such as CSGO Lounge, CSGO Diamonds, and OPSkins.
– Because Valve has helped to create an unregulated, international gambling concern with no oversight that targets teenagers, Plaintiffs and the Class have been damaged.
– This unregulated market is ripe for scams, cheating, fraud and other harms to users.
Numerous experts believe the lawsuit will fall on its ass, but as Sood pointed out during his speech:
“Hopefully, we will grab the attention of some influential folks to do something about this.”
McLeod’s lawsuit is only the beginning.
If Attention has an ass, it is being grabbed.
So what kind of scam does McLeod believe could occur as a result of the lack of regulation?
What did Sood mean when he said the game itself emphasises simplicity?
Ethan Klein of h3h3 Productions has a few answers.
In a YouTube video called: Deception, Lies, and CSGO, Klein highlights some superb research from YouTuber HonorTheCall that clearly shows that two prominent members of the YouTube community: Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Tom “ProSyndicate” Cassell, had created a vast amount of videos showing them both gambling skins, and winning, on a site called CSGO Lotto.
Here’s the rub.
HonorTheCall’s detective work uncovered that TmarTn is the President of CSGO Lotto, and ProSyndicate is the Vice President. They own the company that they are advertising on their site, and according to both HonorTheCall and Klein weren’t very transparent about it.
Think about that for a while.
Imagine you own a CSGO gambling site. You, or someone you hired, created the software. You have access to that software. There is no regulation. There is no oversight. Is it beyond the realm of possibility that the two stars could rig their skin betting adventures so it gives the impression to the impressionable that it’s quite easy to win?
I think I might try that.
It seems a lot easier that getting a job.
(I was reading my teenage son’s mind there).
Once the cat is out of the bag, you would imagine the pair of them would do the honourable thing and hold their hands up? The evidence is overwhelming after all. However, they haven’t done that. TmarTn created a VLOG intimating the allegations are a load of rubbish and that people must be sick in the head to make such accusations, and Prosyndicate has tweeted this.
I’ve always disclosed that my CSGO videos were sponsored & even asked a YouTube employee if anything more was needed & they said it wasn’t.
— Mr. Syndicate (@ProSyndicate) July 4, 2016
It doesn’t help Prosyndicates case that he seems to like pissing off the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). According to pcgamesn.com in Jan 2014, he was part of the Machinima network when he received $30,000 to produce two positive videos for the game Ryse without disclosing the fact. And then in Aug 2015, he failed to disclose he owned the publisher of Dead Realm when he was producing videos for it at the same time.
Transparency from here on out!
— Mr. Syndicate (@ProSyndicate) July 4, 2016
We here you Pro!
The outing of these two stars has seen more crawl out of the woodwork with their confessions, one of which, Lewis “PsiSyndicate” Stewart admitted that he had taken part in rigged gambling site promotions without full disclosure. He told his followers part of the reason he succumbed is that he is ‘weak willed’.
Valve has since banned the site from Steam.
TmarTn, in particular, has been busy deleting tweets, updating videos, trying to hide evidence despite the press having all of the archive material.
In short, it’s a big loud mess, and I am pretty sure that’s what Rahul Rood would have wanted the instant his 13-year old son opened his mouth and uttered those fateful two words.