Gaming personalities embroiled in Counter-Strike gambling scandal

Esports Asia News
Three of YouTube and Twitch’s most popular gaming personalities, Trevor “TmarTn” Martin, Thomas “ProSyndicate” Cassell, and Josh “JoshOG” Beaver, are embroiled a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling scandal following improper disclosure of their financial and ownership involvement with betting site CSGO Lotto. Counter-Strike gambling and betting has come under heavy fire by the community over the past few years because of its lack of regulation. By betting decorative skins that are earned by opening in-game crates (which can then be purchased for money on the Steam marketplace), websites are able to circumvent the category of “traditional gambling.” Counter-Strike’s developer, Valve, has been quiet on the matter. YouTubers Ethan “h3h3Productions” Klein and HonorTheCall accused Martin and Cassell of openly promoting the CSGO Lotto site without being forthcoming about their ties within the company. Viewers have also complained about being misled to believe Martin had no prior knowledge of the website. In March, Martin specifically said he “found a new site” in reference to CSGO Lotto. Beaver has come under less criticism, primarily because he disclosed a promo deal between his videos and CSGO Lotto. According to theFederal Trade Commission’s outline on endorsements, he failed to do so correctly by only putting said sponsorship in the description of his videos. Martin, Cassell and Beaver are all officers of the company’s corporation, which was established in Orlando, Florida, Martin’s hometown. Martin currently acts as the company’s president, Cassell as vice president, and Beaver as secretary. Martin and Cassell have both failed to notify their viewers of such a link until recently, following the release of HonorTheCall’s videos, when Martin said that it was “no secret” that he and Cassell were owners of CSGO Lotto. Martin’s explanation to fans has changed over time, however. Martin told YouTube channel Scarce that he was not originally involved in CSGO Lotto when he first came in contact with the site. However, according to Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations’ online service, Martin was the original incorporator of the business in December 2015. A large concern is that Martin, Cassell and Beaver would have access to the back end of the CSGO Lotto site due to their ownership. This would allow each of them to know the numbers and potentially rig the winning of a bet for entertainment and promotional purposes on their site, something that fellow Twitch streamer Mohamad “m0E” Assad recently went under fire for in relation to CSGO Diamonds, another gambling site. After the release of h3h3Productions’s video, Martin began to make all of his videos regarding CSGO Lotto private on YouTube, as well as his vlog defending his nondisclosure of ownership. His Twitter has been relatively silent, aside from a now-deleted Twitlonger statement Monday, which a user managed to cache before its deletion. “I’ve admitted to wishing I was more upfront about owning the site,” Martin said in the now-deleted statement. “It was always public info but I was never very outspoken about it. My idea was to keep business business, while the focus of YouTube was simply making entertaining content. Obviously, that was misleading to viewers and something I very much regret.” Various attorneys on Twitter, notably Ryan Morrison, also known as VideoGameAttorney, have said that what Martin and Cassell have done is illegal. However, the legal ramifications Martin, Cassell and Beaver will face currently remains unclear. Martin, for his part, claims in his statement what they did was “legal” and that conducting business in a legal manner was his company’s top priority. Cassell, on the other hand, was more forthcoming with his thoughts on the matter, although he claims he did nothing wrong. Things might change soon, however, as a Counter-Strike player Michael John McLeod has opened a class-action lawsuit against Valve for allowing an “illegal online gambling market.” In the suit, McLeod alleges that Valve “knowingly allowed an illegal online gambling market and has been complicit in creating, sustaining and facilitating that market.” In a report by Bloomberg in April, reporters Joshua Brustein and Eben Novy-Williams claim that $2.3 billion dollars has been bet in the game’s history. That report focuses primarily on how the Counter-Strike gambling trend is turning teenagers into gamblers, as there is no age requirement to participate on these sites.

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