Valve Software, the maker of the Steam online gaming service, sent cease-and-desist notices to 23 online gambling sites on Tuesday that enable gambling through various games, most commonly Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. That letter (via Game Informer) has since made its way online.
“We are aware that you are operating one of the gambling sites listed below,” it states. “You are using Steam accounts to conduct this business. Your use of Steam is subject to the terms of the Steam Subscribers Agreement (‘SSA’).
“Under the SSA Steam and Steam services are licensed for personal, non-commercial use only. Your commercial use of Steam accounts is unlicensed and in violation of the SSA. You should immediately cease and desist further use of your Steam accounts for any commercial purpose. If you fail to do this within ten (10) days Valve will pursue all available remedies including without limitation terminating your accounts.”
Valve has confirmed the letter’s authenticity to media outlet Kotaku.
“We are posting this as a PSA for everyone to be aware that other sites are affected too,” wrote the website CS:GO Big, “and anyone who has items on other sites SHOULD withdraw them if they claim they will continue to operate.”
Some of the gambling sites are already unavailable. Although at least one has claimed the downtime is only temporary it’s a very good idea not to invest anything in any of the named services right now; if you lose your stuff in a sudden closure you’re unlikely to get it back.
Gambling for in-game items–something like Counter-Strike weapon skins–might sound innocent, but it is in fact quietly a huge industry. A Bloomberg report from April cites research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, which estimates that $2.3 billion in skins were wagered on esports in 2015. A new report suggests the industry could have seen the total value of wagers rise to $7.4 billion this year. Keep in mind that many of the people involved in this are underage, and losing thousands of dollars through these sites is not uncommon.