Skin Gambling Crackdown Scorecard: Roughly Half Of Named Sites Have Shut Down

Posted By Will Green on August 12, 2016 - Last Updated on January 22, 2018

[toc]Initial efforts by Valve Corporation to stop 42 skin gambling sites named over two cease and desist letters from using its API to facilitate skin betting has proven moderately successful for the game maker so far. 

The 10-day windows to comply with each letter’s identical requests have both expired.

The initial effort, while circuitous, appears to have been reasonably effective for Valve.

While nine sites have flouted the order and are still operating normally, nearly half of the named sites have shut down.

Another nine sites have temporarily shut down some or all aspects of their games while they transition to a product they say will be more compliant with Valve’s demands.

Four sites are still operating but are undergoing service disruptions after not complying with Valve’s request.

Here’s a breakdown of how each of the sites have reacted as of Aug. 13.

Twenty sites have shut down

CSGOLotto

CSGOLotto went completely offline as recently as Thursday. It had remained online as a website for over a month while not offering any skin gambling contests.

It said in early July it would shut down due to high expected trading volumes surrounding the CS:GO tournament ESL One Cologne, but never came back online afterward. Four days prior to that announcement, reports surfaced that Lotto owner Trevor ‘Tmartn’ Martin gambled on the site while not disclosing his ownership position.

The following day, Lotto was named as a fellow defendant in a lawsuit against Valve filed by a gamer’s mother. The site’s future plans are unclear.

CSGOShuffle

CSGOShuffle shut down prior to July 29. Similar to CSGOLotto, Shuffle’s owner, James ‘PhantomL0rd’ Varga, was implicated in a gambling scandal after hacked Skype logs revealed he gambled on his own site with unlimited amounts of house money, and asked his web developer to feed him the “percentages” of the website’s jackpots.

CSGOBestPot

CSGOBestPot was one of the 10 initial non-compliant holdouts from the second C&D letter and had been operating normally as recently as Thursday morning. On Friday, however, attempts to log on to the site elicited only a blank white screen, and the entire operation appeared to be offline.

The site has not tweeted since January.

CSGOCrash

CSGOCrash has undergone significant transformation in the last few days and appears to have shut down. It was one of the sites from the first C&D that did not alter its product at all in the 10-day window.

On Thursday, it posted a note on its website saying that its bots were disrupted and that it was working to fix the problem. On Friday, however, that note was removed and attempts to log on to the site only elicited error messages.

CSGOWild

CSGOWild shut down July 23. It instructed users prior to the shutdown to withdraw all balances, a processed plagued by scammers posing as site administrators and customers reporting their inability to withdraw.

Users also complained the site arbitrarily raised prices of skins on the site’s marketplace. The site had previously left the US marketplace in June, which it said it did “voluntarily.”

CSGOWild came under fire for allegedly being owned by members of a professional esports organization, allegations it refuted in an announcement.

CSGODiamonds

CSGODiamonds shut down gambling operations July 29 and is now completely offline.

In June, a sponsored gambler on the site admitted that the site’s owners told him the outcomes of “rolls” in advance.

CSGOStrong

CSGOStrong did not comply with Valve’s 10-day window and was operating normally until recently, but is now offline.

The site has appeared to achieve a workaround from directly accepting skin deposits when it partnered with Skntrades, a skins-to-digital-currency conversion site. Strong users were instructed to deposit skins on Skntrades and then use that currency to deposit and bet with on Strong.

It had experienced difficulty with its servers this past week, it said.

CSGOCosmos

CSGOCosmos followed an identical trajectory to Strong, from its flouting of the 10-day window, to its partnership with Skntrades, to experiencing server issues, to now being entirely offline.

CSGOFast

CSGOFast shut down in the US on July 29, although it does not appear to have shut down everywhere. Users in Europe have reported the ability to still deposit on the site using indirect skin deposits, such as G2A Pay.

CSGOJackpot

CSGOJackpot stopped offering games on Aug. 7, and will close entirely on Aug. 24. Citing reasons beyond its control, it urged players to withdraw their skins by Aug. 11.

The site’s tweets indicated pressure was being put on its trade bots.

Other shuttered skin betting sites

Csg0, CSGO2X, CSGOCasino, CSGODouble, CSGOHouse, CSGOatse, SocietyLogin, CSGOBattle, Skins2, and CSBetGo have also shut down.

Nine sites temporarily shut down some or all game aspects

CSGOPot

CSGOPot did not originally comply with the first C&D’s 10-day window to shut down. It said it had received no letter from Valve and that it would not be shutting down.

On Aug. 2, it announced its bots had been mysteriously suspended and said it was going to appeal Valve to reinstate the bots so that users could withdraw skins. It’s unclear if that effort was successful.

On Aug. 5, the site said it would shut down temporarily while updating its product to align with Valve’s ToS. Meanwhile, users are able to play on the “old” version of the site, which it does not appear Valve has taken action against. It’s unclear how or if CSGOPot has updated its product.

CSGODices

CSGODices The site said it would cease operations and did so before the second C&D was sent. It has since teased a return with a comeback ticker on its website. The deadline of this ticker, however, has been pushed back twice now.

The countdown is now scheduled to hit zero on Aug. 15.

CSGOBubble

CSGOBubble shut down on or before Aug. 8, the day before the second C&D’s window was set to expire. An announcement on the site read in part, “After receiving the Cease&Desist letter from Valve on July 29, CSGOBubble kept operations going forward and allowed users to enjoy their time here.”

It advised users to stay tuned because it would be back with a “totally new” product.

CSGOSpeed

CSGOSpeed shut down on Aug. 7, with a notice saying, “Our intention is to return with an alternative that complies with Steam’s Terms of Service and Subscriber Agreement.”

On Friday it said that it will return by Aug. 27.

CSGO500

CSGO500 announced July 24 it would shut down temporarily on July 27. It said it would return once it reached an alternative that complied with Steam’s subscriber agreement.

A countdown clock on this wheel of fortune website indicates that the site will return in six days.

[show-table name=betway]

CSGOSweep

CSGOSweep remained partially operational until a few days ago. Last month it told users it would suspend all deposits and withdrawals and was planning extensive maintenance across the site, ostensibly to refocus its product to be compliant with Valve’s request.

In a tweet Thursday the site told a user, “We f*cked up a little, we’ll be fixed soon.”

CSGOBig

CSGOBig disabled games on July 25, six days after announcing it would shut down temporarily to comply with Valve’s order. The site previously played house music and posted a notice that it was down for maintenance.

Now, however, the site is completely offline.

Bets.gg

Bets.gg temporarily shut down late last month, and teased multiple new product offerings. It said it would delete all user data once it shifted to its “new system.” An announcement on its home page says it will return the week of Aug. 15.

CSGOMassive

CSGOMassive never went completely offline, but it did suspend withdrawals and deposits (terming this a “temporary shut down”) while it said it was pursuing an update that would comply with Valve’s Terms of Service.

As of Aug. 12, games for users with existing balances were still running on the site.

Four sites undergoing service disruptions after not complying with C&Ds

Fanobet

The esportsbook Fanobet on Thursday announced that Valve had blocked its trade bots—the increasingly common move from the game maker to combat sites that didn’t initially comply with its C&Ds—and that subsequently it would convert its skin betting platform to a Bitcoin platform.

The site also offers cash betting on esports. An admin confirmed that the site will accept G2A Pay, Skrill, Neteller and paysafecard.

Despite the shift to Bitcoin, the site will still not operate in the United States, the admin said.

Users who did not withdraw their skin balances by Aug. 18 will have their balances automatically converted to Bitcoin at a rate of $1 USD to $0.65 worth of Bitcoin, the admin said.

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission recently helped pave the way for skin gambling by authorizing the use of Bitcoin in an update to its codes of practice at the end of July.

Meanwhile, a Florida circuit court judge ruled last month that Bitcoin did not constitute real money.

CSGOLounge

The sister sites CSGOLounge and Dota2Lounge had their bots disrupted this week, as well, ostensibly by Valve. The disruption came after Lounge on Aug. 1 instituted geolocation abilities and updated its terms of service to include a variety of specific, targeted product alterations it said would bring it more in compliance with local laws.

None of those changes, which involved blocking users in 16 countries from observing skin betting odds data or wagering skins on esports matches, instituting mandatory email and password log-ins for bettors, and instituting a self-exclusion responsible gaming policy, appeared to appease Valve’s request to stop using its API to facilitate skin gambling.

Users in countries outside of the 16 that are blocked by the site were still able to wager skins before bot disruption occurred.

Betting activity on Lounge has significantly decreased since the C&Ds were issued.

The average amount of skins bet on a match during the month of July exceeded 40,000 per match. The average amount of skins bet on a match in first week of August (the last such week users from blocked countries could view such data) approximated 6,000 per match.

CSGOPolygon

CSGOPolygon was one of several to defy Valve’s C&Ds before they were even sent, assuring users it would “most likely make an alternative system” to its current product, and that users should not panic because their skins would be safe no matter what.

On Friday, however, it announced that all bots on its site were down, preventing users from acquiring skins they have won. It said it was attempting to solve the problem. Users reported problems with deposits as well.

As of Friday, the site was still offering games that players with existing balances could participate in.

Nine sites still appear to be operating normally

CSGOBetting

CSGOBetting not only appears to be operating normally, but also appears to be in total compliance with Steam’s Terms of Service because it does not offer any betting product—skins or otherwise.

The affiliate site, which only reviews various sportsbooks, initially said it had not received the second letter and tweeted that it suspected the letter was forged. It later told esports journalist Richard Lewis that it did receive a letter from a Valve email address that went to its spam folder.

The site said it welcomed any action by Valve, but expressed confusion over why it was named at all, since it has never operated any gambling service and has never utilized Valve’s API.

Kickback

Kickback appears to be operating normally, and also stands out from the rest of the sites named because it allows players to win either cash or skins by actually playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, either in 1v1 or 5v5 match-ups.

Thus, the site facilitates head-to-head wagering as opposed to esportsbook betting. Nevada and New Jersey have regulations that authorize head-to-head wagering at licensed casinos.

Instead of prompting users to log in with their Steam account—which most skin gambling sites do and the improper use of which is at the heart of Valve’s C&Ds—Kickback also employs an email-and-password style log-in system.

The American site says it partners with PayPal to process cash withdrawals. If true, it’s unclear what the notoriously risk-averse processor’s legal justification is for processing payments in jurisdictions that do not regulate or legalize head-to-head wagering.

CSGOPoor

CSGOPoor appears to be operating normally. Since late July it has posted an announcement on its site reading, “CSGOPOOR is NOT going to close and will be always online, tell your friends! No one is going to get banned for playing on the site!”

CSGOMoment, CSGOBetbig, and SkinArena also all appear to be operating normally.

CSGOHowl.us, CSGO.One, and CSGOFade appear to be operating normally as well, but have each consistently denied Steam log-ins from some American users for over a week.

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