YouTubers warned by Federal Trade Commission over online casino promotion

  • Stakeholders of betting site promoted it through YouTube
  • No action will be taken by FTC at this stage

Two YouTube personalities who ran popular casino game live streams have been issued with a warning from the Federal Trade Commission after it emerged the pair owned a betting site they were directing fans toward.

Thomas "Syndicate" Cassell and Trevor "TmarTn" Martin
Thomas “Syndicate” Cassell and Trevor “TmarTn” Martin

It was not made clear in the live streams that the betting site would profit the owners, who posed as keen gamers and shared tips on winning big.

The online casino in question is CS:GO Lotto, which allows users to gamble ‘skins’, or custom weapon textures, to be used in the video game Counter Strike.

Surprising value of market for game skin gambling

It may seem like a minor thing for the Federal Trade Commission to get involved in – after all, the players are trading virtual designs for virtual weapons in a virtual world.

However, custom weaponry and game mods are big business in the digital world, and some rare designs and styles can sell for thousands of dollars to the right buyer.

Gambling sites have therefore sprung up for players who want to trade items they can use on a gaming platform, such as Steam. Players stake their own items against higher-value skins, or they can enter ‘giveaways’ where items can be won for free.

Some players spend hundreds of dollars on customizing their video games, and will spend a lot of time and money betting or trading for the perfect acquisition.

Duo breaks strict rules on gambling promotion

The skin gambling operation itself is perfectly legal, according to the law as it stands now – not least because the game skins being traded have no actual value in the real world.

However, consumers are still paying real money to take part in what they believe are fair games – and this means that the regulators have to take action where a game is unfair.

Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Thomas “Syndicate” Cassell both stream video games live to their followers on the YouTube platform, and the FTC discovered they were using these platforms to encourage viewers to bet for skins.

They also made videos which advised players on how to win big when gambling at CS:GO Lotto, and they paid other gaming promoters to push the site as well.

Unfortunately for the pair, it was discovered last year that they actually own part of CS:GO, putting them in an awkward position with regulators.

According to Gambling Commission rules, any promotion of gambling must make clear who the operator is, and any gambling advert must make clear it is promotional material. Though TmarTn and Syndicate will avoid a fine in this instance, any future breaches of law could be met with a fine in excess of $40k.

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