Popular YouTubers exposed as owners of CS:GO gambling site
Recently it was revealed that popular YouTubers Trevor "TmarTn" Martin and Tom "Syndicate" Cassell are owners of CS:GO Lotto -- a website which they promoted via their respective channels without informing their audiences that they were affiliated with it.
CS:GO Lotto is one of many gambling sites for Counter Strike: Global Operation (CS:GO). And accusations have surfaced that the two have used their ownership to rig their seemingly random (and rare) results, with the goal of generating traffic for the website.
CS:GO weapon skins and items can be sold for real currency through the Steam marketplace. These items vary in price and rarity. Items can be obtained via random slot-machine-like draws involving crates. Websites like CS:GO Lotto allow users to bet money in hopes of drawing expensive items. Videos of Martin and Cassell taking part in random draws on the site started popping up back in December 2015. In these videos, they won high profit weapon skins.
On June 27, YouTuber HonorTheCall made the connections between the site and the players. He outlines his discovery in the video below. (But be warned, he uses a lot of NSFW language.) HonorTheCall provides evidence that lists Tmartn as president and ProSyndicate is as VP of CS:GO Lotto. After the report aired, Martin then uploaded a video (which he has deleted) in response claiming that their ownership had never been a secret.
On July 3, their controversial practices were then corroborated by h3h3Productions and gained more traction. After news began circulating, it was discovered that updates were made to their videos in an attempt to reflect their involvement. Both Honor and h3h3 revealed internet archive data showing changes were made after the fact. Prior to their ownership being made public, no disclosure of owning the website or its gambling design had been made by either.
On July 4, Both Martin and Cassell made all their CS:GO betting videos private and unavailable. On that same day, Steam also placed a disclaimer for the lottery site if you attempt to access it, possibly in response to damage control.
Following those updates, July 4 saw more evidence regarding the questionable practices involving CSGO betting. YouTuber PsiSyndicate shared that he had taken part in promoting a CS:GO lottery site himself for profit. He also goes on to share that results can be manipulated -- effectively proving that TmarTn and company were capable of rigging their videos to generate more interest.
The issues with the website and their ownership is multifaceted. One, it has been revealed that they can and have manipulated their random draws. Given their subscriber numbers, Tmartn and ProSyndicate have likely benefited from traffic for their website.
The other issue is that illegal to not disclose whether you work for or are paid by a company to promote or review a product. The more pressing issue is that their site targets players as young as 13, well below the legal age of 18. This rather serious, considering that children are in more danger to develop addiction than adults -- and are a lot less likely to think things through before throwing money at a shot-in-the-dark gamble for some sweet loot.
A few questions arise regarding CS:GO betting. Considering how many betting websites there are, how many have take part in these activities? How many of these sites are willing to target underaged players? Will any legal action be taken against Tmartn or ProSyndicate?
Any ramifications, legal actions or updates regarding the scandal remain to be seen.