Gambling has taken centre stage recently for Valve. There have been issues of match fixing and there have been some serious conflicts of interest. This is especially true within the competitive CS:GO community.
Valve is now making moves following a recent lawsuit to distance themselves from these gambling sites. Today they released a statement saying:
In 2011, we added a feature to Steam that enabled users to trade in-game items as a way to make it easier for people to get the items they wanted in games featuring in-game economies.
Since then a number of gambling sites started leveraging the Steam trading system, and there’s been some false assumptions about our involvement with these sites. We’d like to clarify that we have no business relationships with any of these sites. We have never received any revenue from them. And Steam does not have a system for turning in-game items into real world currency.
These sites have basically pieced together their operations in two-part fashion. First, they are using the OpenID API as a way for users to prove ownership of their Steam accounts and items. Any other information they obtain about a user’s Steam account is either manually disclosed by the user or obtained from the user’s Steam Community profile (when the user has chosen to make their profile public). Second, they create automated Steam accounts that make the same web calls as individual Steam users.
Using the OpenID API and making the same web calls as Steam users to run a gambling business is not allowed by our API nor our user agreements. We are going to start sending notices to these sites requesting they cease operations through Steam, and further pursue the matter as necessary. Users should probably consider this information as they manage their in-game item inventory and trade activity.
This will impact more than a few players as these gambling dens are quite prolific. Lots of trade is happening, and because real money is spent on items, people are losing some decent dosh. People should be smart enough to recognise that once money has entered the Steam ecosystem that it cannot be withdrawn. This has not stopped people treating this as a way to make money (which will all likely be spent on further games.)
This move is not one which will have an impact on sites which do not gamble. If you are just trading, then you will be fine. All Valve is stating is that they are going to crack down on people that are using their technologies, their API’s, to run gambling and betting businesses. Good show Valve!