The last few weeks have been interesting for the CSGO Jackpot and betting sites that plague the CounterStrike scene. After the release of Bloomberg’s scathing article about underage gambling one of the larger sites has decided to put measures in place in order to minimize potential damage from regulators who could decide to investigate what is at best a grey area, and at worst an illegal gambling operation.
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As of last week, anyone from anywhere in the world, regardless of age, could gamble skins on CSGOShuffle, one of the biggest sites around. Now the site has blocked not only the UK, but also the USA, quite probably their biggest market.
Other sites may decide to follow in CSGOShuffle’s footsteps, while others, like Ezskins have decided to remove all mention of currency off their betting platform, now referring to the skins as “pts”, though the values quoted conveniently have one point correspond to one dollar.
We estimate that CSGOShuffle is currently making $3000-5000 per hour at peak times from their 5% cut, which given the anonymity behind the website, we believe is likely unregistered for corporation tax in the country its owners reside in. Our experts believe that they sell in bulk to third party retailers at 70-80% of the items’ values in order to shift their digital goods quickly and easily.
There are no visible company details for CSGOShuffle or any of its competitors and it is difficult to find out any information at all as to who is behind these websites. The only truly recognizable person who publicly states he owns a website is Henry Greer from EZSkins. You’d have to worry if any authority decided to investigate this sector after reading Bloomberg’s article…
All of this raises a pretty serious question, are these sites solely to blame? Valve provides the API to allow Steam account holders to use these sites, they create the skins, they sell them in a quasi-slot machine format and enable their free market trade via the marketplace, and they provide the technical infrastructure for this gambling via providing the ability for trade bots to operate. Do they do any know your customer (KYC) or age verification? We don’t recall ever having to do it.
Until this issue is challenged by a regulator, Government or similar, Valve has a huge incentive to turn a blind eye. As it currently stands, the sale of skins and the commission on sales through the marketplace generates a significant revenue stream for Valve, and this is no doubt fuelled by an illicit industry. Will Valve find themselves in the FBI’s firing line? It would be easy for Valve to help themselves by revoking these site’s API access, in which all illegal betting sites would cease to exist.