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Valve starts cracking down on ‘Team Fortress 2’ gambling websites

Why it matters to you

Valve has mostly washed its hands of gambling sites that use its open APIs, so it's noteworthy the company is taking a stand against them.

Valve has continued its crackdown on online gambling sites taking advantage of its open APIs by blocking the accounts of Team Fortress 2 gambling sites, the company announced Friday.

Like the Counter-Strike gambling sites that put Valve in hot water last year, Team Fortress 2 gambling sites allow users to gamble their in-game items, which have monetary values based on their rarity. The sites are able to operate because Valve’s games use an open API and Valve has traditionally washed its hands of any responsibility for how individuals use this data.

That changed in 2016 when controversy erupted over two YouTubers, Trevor “Tmartn” Martin and Tom “ProSyndicate” Cassel, who were revealed as the owners of a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling site they had promoted in videos. Valve came under fire in the controversy and although the company maintained its innocence in how others choose to use its APIs, Valve did issue several cease-and-desist letters.

More: Valve responds to requests to shut down Counter-Strike weapon skin trading

Valve has now taken a similar stance on TF2 gambling sites.

“In July of last year we outlined our position on gambling web sites, specifically noting that Valve has no business relationship with these sites. At that time we also began blocking many CSGO gambling accounts,” the company’s statement said. “More recently, some gambling web sites started leveraging TF2 items. Today we began the process of blocking TF2 gambling accounts as well. We recommend you don’t trade with these sites.”

Given that it involves online gambling that minors could potentially have access to (particularly as the sites have been promoted by YouTubers), this issue goes way beyond the world of video games. The Washington State Gambling Commission has issued threats to Valve and there are ongoing lawsuits against both TmarTn, one of the YouTubers involved (the other, ProSyndicate, moved back to the U.K.), and Valve.

Whatever happens in those cases, it’s probably best to take a lesson from this: Don’t trust sketchy websites that let you gamble on in-game items or YouTubers who promote them.