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[toc]On July 19, Valve Corporation sent a cease and desist letter to 23 skin gambling websites ordering them to stop using its API, Steam, to facilitate commercial gambling.
The apparent 10-day period (July 19-29) for sites to comply with the order is now over. The reaction from the 23 sites has been diverse.
- 11 sites appear to have shut down operations for good.
- 4 sites have shut down temporarily but teased a return, saying they are amending their product to comply with Steam’s terms and conditions.
- 2 sites have not shut down but are also not currently offering gambling, and their future plans remain unclear.
- 6 sites appear to have not heeded the C&D at all, and as of July 30 were still operating normally.
Meanwhile, a second Valve C&D letter—the authenticity of which has not yet been verified—naming an additional 20 skin gambling sites including Fanobet, CSGOJackpot, CSGOPolygon, and SteamAnalyst, was posted by website csgobetting.com.
Despite posting the letter, CSGOBetting said it had not received the letter, which was dated July 29 and set out a similar 10-day window by which named sites needed to shut down.
CSGOBetting expressed confusion over being a named target in the letter, it said, since it does not use Valve’s API to conduct business and works with licensed casinos.
Sites named in the initial C&D that have shut down
CSGOWild shut down on July 23. It instructed users prior to the shut down 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 U.S. marketplace in June, which it said it did “voluntarily.”
The site was also allegedly owned by members of a professional esports organization, raising concerns within the esports community. It refuted these claims in an announcement. A detailed breakdown of the CSGOWild ownership saga and the site’s termination can be read here.
CSGODiamonds shut down gambling operations on July 29, saying that it took Valve’s demands “very seriously.” The site remains open only for withdrawals, and said it will be offline in seven days. The site was thought to be pivoting to new, more compliant product earlier this month when it unexpectedly shut down for “maintenance” for a 24-hour period. In June a sponsored gambler on the site admitted that the site’s owners told him the outcomes of “rolls” in advance.
CSGOFast announced on July 25 that it would shut down on July 29, and it did so. ESBR data obtained on CSGOFast showed it experienced only a minimal decline in activity in the wake of Valve’s C&D and its announcement to shut down. The site was one of the biggest in the world to offer jackpot skin betting games, often churning more than $1 million in jackpot handle every day.
CSGODouble on July 14 was among the first sites to declare its intent to shut down. It did so late on the evening of July 26. The site had previously warned customers trying withdraw their balances that the site’s bots, which facilitate the transfer of digital goods, would be under heavy load, and to remain patient. Visitors to the site are directed to a blank page and encouraged to press the ‘F’ key in order to mourn its passing.
CSGOBattle shut down on or after July 24. A notice on its site says “Something broke, so we’re fixing it… We’ll be right back.” The note, however, is apparently tongue-in-cheek. Below it, a separate note tells users “Our site has now been closed. Thanks for using our site, we hope you enjoyed the experience as much as we did. Refer to our twitter for updates.” Prior to the shut down, a mod on the site’s chat feature ominously told users asking why they couldn’t extract their balances: “Withdraw if you can.”
CSGOCasino shut down its csgocasino.net web address on July 24. However, a site with a similar URL, csgo-casino.com, which was not mentioned in the C&D and may or may not be related to CSGOCasino, is online and offering transactions via Steam.
CSGOatse, a roulette, blackjack, tibian dice and jackpot site, abruptly tweeted on Thursday at 12:22pm EST that it would be shutting down in exactly 1 hour and 40 minutes. It instructed users to withdraw or play their final coins immediately, and warned that if they did not do so in the allotted 100-minute time period, their remaining balances would be erased. Continuing the theme of irreverent site sign offs, the site’s url now links to a video of a scene from the 1993 film, Blood In Blood Out.
CSGO2X shut down on July 28. The site encouraged users to withdraw all points balances. In a previous announcement it had claimed that Valve shut down its Steam Account, but did not do so for other skin gambling sites. This raised questions about why CSGO2X was named in the C&D, and whether or not Valve would preemptively do the same to other sites. As customers scrambled to withdraw, the site told its users that it would “do its best to stock up the bots,” in order to ensure the facilitation of payouts.
SocietyLogin shut down late last week as it previously indicated it would. The web address that used to link to a sleekly-designed, community-based site now links to nothing. The site has not publicly addressed any future plans.
Skins2 appears to have shut down definitively. Users visiting skins2.com are directed to a notice that says, “Sorry, the page you are looking for could not be found,” followed by lines of PHP script. In addition to have users sign into their Steam accounts to enable trading, it also made users sign in separately to the site with their own email and password combination, hinting at a possible way forward that didn’t involve Steam. The site has not addressed any future plans.
CSGOHouse announced late on July 24 that it would shut down on July 26. Its home page reads, “We have been forced to close, because we have created trade bots and are using valves (sic) API for gambling. Thank you for all your support, you are truly awesome!”
Sites named in the initial C&D that have temporarily shut down and teased a return
CSGOBig announced on July 19 that it would shut down temporarily to comply with Valve’s terms of service, and that it would be back soon. Users visiting the site now are treated to the house music of artist ‘Blackmill,’ as well as a notice that the site is down for maintenance.
CSGOBig was an early, proactive actor following the C&D, and was largely responsible for the letter’s dissemination to the world. It posted the letter as part of its larger closure announcement, and noted it was doing so in order that everyone could be aware that other sites, not just theirs, were affected.
CSGOMassive said July 29 it had suspended deposits and withdrawals, and was shutting down temporarily in order to comply with Valve’s terms of service. The site’s jackpot, roulette, head to head and mines games, though, were still functional, making it appear that the site had not shut down. The notice said the site would return in the coming weeks.
Bets.gg, as it vowed to do earlier this month, temporarily shut down for extended maintenance late on the night of July 27. It is transitioning to a new product offering. It disabled deposits and restocked its store, according to a note to users, and encouraged users to withdraw their skins because “all user data will be permanently deleted when we move to our new system.”
The notice said the site will be relaunched in the coming weeks, but only after its owners determine “the best route available” to comply with Valve. The website also teased two additional projects it said had previously been in development.
CSGO500 announced on July 24 that 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. Unlike some sites teasing a return, 500 encouraged all users to withdraw their remaining balances over the 72-hour allotted period. A countdown clock on the wheel of fortune website indicates that the site will return in nine days.
Sites named in the initial C&D in indefinite limbo
CSGOLotto remains online as a website, but its skin gambling contests have not operated since July 8, when the site posted an announcement saying it was shutting down all game modes due to the high projected amount of Steam skin trading surrounding ESL One Cologne, the most-bet-on CSGO tournament this year, that weekend.
But when Cologne ended 48 hours later, Lotto’s games never came back online.
Four days prior to the announcement, reports surfaced that alleged Lotto owner Trevor Martin gambled on the site while not disclosing his ownership position. Martin later confirmed his ownership position in the site in an apology video. 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.
CSGOSweep remains online as a website, but its skin gambling contests are currently inoperative.
An announcement on its website posted last week gave users a 72-hour warning that it was suspending all deposits and withdrawals, and said only that it was planning, “extensive maintenance across the whole site. All user balances will be protected no matter what and will keep you updated.” The site’s future plans are unclear.
Sites named in the initial C&D that have not shut down
CSGOLounge, the world’s largest skin betting site, appears to be operating normally. The site has experienced a moderate draw-down in betting activity over the past 10 days.
Notably, it stayed open over the final two days of ELEAGUE, a heavily bet-on CSGO tournament, taking in more than 300,000 skins over that competition’s final three matches.
According to data compiled by ESBR, the site has still taken approximately 3.5 million skins in bets since Valve sent the C&D notice, with an average handle of around 32,000 skins per match. In the six-day period between when Valve’s Erik Johnson posted a warning to skin gambling sites and Valve sent the C&D, that average was around 37,000 skins per match.
Prior to the Johnson note, Lounge’s average per match handle in July exceeded 60,000 skins, buoyed especially by the high volume of betting on the aforementioned Cologne tournament.
In addition to facilitating skin betting, the site also has a robust skin trading platform, which it theoretically could continue to offer to customers in the event Valve pursues further action against it.
Dota2Lounge, CSGOLounge’s sister site, appears to be operating normally.
CSGOStrong appears to be operating normally, but it is not accepting direct skin deposits. Instead, it says that in order to comply with Valve’s terms of service it is now only accepting coins from skntrades.com, a third-party site that allows for the conversion of coins to skins and skins to coins. Users can upload skins to the site and convert skins to coins, then transfer coins to their balance on Strong.
Currently, Skntrades only facilitates this process for Strong and one other site, CSGOCosmos. Essentially, the betting experience remains exactly the same on Strong. The only difference is that the initial step of converting skins to digital betting currency is now outsourced exclusively to another site.
CSGOCosmos appears to be operating normally. Unlike CSGOStrong, it has not announced that it will only accept coins from Skntrades.
CSGOCrash appears to be operating normally. It said in a note to users last week that it was not planning to shut down, would do whatever it takes to comply with Valve’s terms of service, and was taking extra steps to maintain solvency.
CSGOPot appears to be operating normally. The site initially declared Valve’s C&D as fake once other sites began discussing it on social media, and said Valve never contacted it.
Sites *not* named in the initial C&D that either shut down or altered their product
CSGORumble shut down on July 14, hours after Valve’s initial post warning sites to stop using its API. The site teased a new product offering unrelated to CSGO that it said users would love.
EsportsPlus is operating normally but disabled its Steam log in. The site now has users log in through their Facebook account or a traditional email and password account.
CSGOGamble shut down on July 20. A former administrator of the site teased a new product, saying the current site operators are “working hard to bring you guys something revolutionary that you all will all love.”