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So it looks like the State of Washington is gunning for Valve, explaining that the gaming mega-giant should probably stop facilitating gambling before some real trouble comes their way.
The State of Washington Gambling Commission issued a statement today explaining that it has reached out to Valve in regards to in-game gambling. Valve, the folks behind games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, not Half-Life 3 and games platform Steam, have been involved in some naughty dealings and, as it turns out, Uncle Sam pays attention to those kinds of things.
According to the announcement, Valve has been informed that they must "immediately stop allowing the transfer of virtual weapons known as 'skins' for gambling activities" through the Steam platform.
Apparently the Commission contacted Valve back in February of this year regarding Counter Strike: Global Offensive and the ability for players to gamble with in-game skins. While the gambling side of this whole operation is not actually orchestrated by Valve, it is being done by third-party groups that have Steam accounts and, thus, falls under Valve's responsibility.
In case you're curious how serious this issue is, the Esports Betting Report claims that one such skins gambling site, CSGO Lounge, orchestrated about a billion dollars in skin gambling from Jan. 1 to Aug. 1 of this year.
Basically, whether skins are purchased in CSGO or won in-game, players are able to trade them around freely. However, these third-party sites allow players to gamble using their skins as currency, and they are then transferred accordingly. The trick here is that those skins can then be sold for real-world money, which is where the gambling comes into play. In other words, a CSGO player can put up a handful of their skins on a gamble and, if they win, earn something more rare as a result. They can then choose to hang on to their "winnings" or, you know, sell them for cash to the third-party source.
It sounds like Valve's own CSGO isn't the only game this is being done with, as games like FIFA have also been noted as being used for skins gambling. But while Valve can't be held responsible for other developers necessarily, it sounds like the State of Washington is at least taking them to task for the big earner, Counter Strike.
The statement from the Gambling Commission concludes saying that Valve is basically facilitating this type of gambling and has been ordered to "take whatever actions are necessary" to stop it from happening. They've got until Oct. 14 to respond, which isn't a heck of a lot of time.
While Valve can, and apparently has, issued statements to these sites to knock it off, they can't exactly make them stop breaking the law. It's kind of a tough spot they've been put in, and the only solution may be to stop allowing players to trade their skins.