YouTubers Deceivingly Promote CS: GO Gambling Site They Own
As I’m sure you all have noticed in our own reviews, we disclose each and every time that we have received a review copy or code of a game. As part of the rules stipulated by the Federal Trade Commission, every time a critic or entertainer promotes a product, they must disclose whether they have received any compensation for the matter. Compensation can either be cash or a review copy of a game. It’s essentially a contract between the publication and the game company, but we have an obligation to consumers to be upfront with such contracts.
Since YouTube and Twitch are somewhat new when it comes to reviewing and promoting products, they’ve dodged most glances from the FTC. Things changed a bit after it was uncovered that Machinima failed to disclose their sponsorship agreement with Microsoft with all of their media supporting and promoting Microsoft products. One of the YouTubers part of Machinima’s video network during this scandal was Tom Cassell (Syndicate), who has been caught in yet another deceptive practice.
Cassell, along with another YouTuber, Trevor Martin (TmarTn), have both been promoting a website called CS: GO Lotto, which takes the idea of selling skins in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to different heights. Since Valve doesn’t set a monetary value on the skins collected in CS: GO, players have little restriction on selling the skins in the Valve marketplace. With CS: GO Lotto, players place bets on their skins. They deposit their skins in a pool, spin the wheel of randomness, and one player will win all of the skins deposited in that pool. Players can either keeps the skins or sell them however they wish. The full list of rules can be found on the CS: GO website.
Another point worthy of note is that since Valve doesn’t have a monetary value on the skins, this Lotto website can allow underage betters to bet their skins. It’s a loophole Valve created, regardless of their intention, which opens up a whole other can of worms with the gray legality of the website as well.
The problem with Cassell and Martin promoting the lotto site is that they own it, and they didn’t disclose such imperative facts in any of their promotion videos. Now that this has come to light, the Cassell has hastily added a single-sentence disclosure in his video descriptions, something that another YouTuber (H3H3) has pointed out in his own video that didn’t exist until recently. In fact, Cassell says, in this video by H3H3 that he stumbled upon the CS: GO Lotto website after a recommendation of a friend. Considering he’s listed a President and owner and has corporate filings in Florida that suggest differently, such a statement would be an outright lie. In addition, Martin has suddenly made all of his videos where he promoted the website private, not allowing anyone at this time to see if he properly disclosed his relationship to the site or not.
It’s easy to see how this could have been a simple mistake at first, to not disclose their ownership of the site and promote it, but to continue to make promotion videos without disclosure goes beyond such a mistake to blatant deceptive trade practices. The FTC will undoubtedly have a hand in this, and we’ll undoubtedly witness new legislation when it comes to other promotion videos in the future.