The 2016 CS:GO Skin Gambling Scandal: TmarTn, ProSyndicate and the FTC

Trevor “TmarTn” Martin (Stream) and Tom “ProSyndicate” Cassell (Stream) are two popular YouTubers, who, in late 2015, came up with an incredible scheme to make them rich. (Stream) They were going to run a classic casino scam. (Stream) Specifically, they were going to get people hooked on a CS:GO gambling site that they owned but not tell anybody that they owned it. “We found this new site, called CS:GO Lotto.” It had all the makings of a great scam. “Dude you could just swing for the fences with one bet, and just come way up five grand.” The only problem was that CS:GO gambling was a massive underground industry that chugged along in the dark alleys beneath the squeaky clean exterior of CS:GO esports. And these two dinguses managed to explode and expose one of gaming’s biggest grey markets with just a few simple videos. (Stream) It all started in December 2015, when TmarTn incorporated CSGO Lotto, a CS:GO skin gambling site. Now, while the trend has died down a little, CS:GO skin gambling was all the rage just a few years ago. See, every skin is bought and sold on the steam marketplace which gives it a real world value. Now if you sold a skin on the steam marketplace right now you’d get steam credit but, there are plenty of ways to turn those skins into cold hard cash. There were two primary ways to gamble with skins. You could either bet on the results of an esports match, or play a game, like roulette. (Stream) But cashing out through these gambling sites and steam bots, only gave you the value you won in skins. The real game came in the skin grey market, websites that let you trade your skins to someone else in exchange for money through say, PayPal. It was just like a real casino. Well… almost. Basically you turn your real human Earth money into skins. Either by buying them in the steam marketplace, or buying keys to open crates that contain them. You took your skins to the gambling site of your choice, traded them to their bots for a new, fake currency that was roughly equivalent to US dollars, which they were your casino chips. You then bet that money with that currency on either matches or roulette spins to win more money. Which you then turned back into skins. And finally, you sold those skins to someone through another site to get back real human Earth money. And now that you understand how skin gambling works, you might be asking to yourself, “How was all this legal?” Well, it wasn’t. At least, not technically. See, a lot of these sites skirted around gambling regulations by arguing that technically, you weren’t gambling with money. You were gambling with a virtual item. And while it had real-world value, you could technically get it through a random crate or a drop. And then, you weren’t winning money, just skins. And yes, skins do have real world value, but Valve didn’t let you get that money natively through Steam. We’ll be coming back to the legality of all this later on, but for now remember that CS:GO, a game with a massive underage audience had a powerful and prevalent underground gambling scene. So TmarTn and his associates, including another popular YouTuber, ProSyndicate, Started CS:GO A skin-gambling site to profit off of the craze. But they took it one step further. You don’t make money if no one is gambling at your casino, but advertising is expensive. And CS:GO Lotto had plenty of competition. Meanwhile ProSyndicate and TmarTn had massive YouTube channels. Each with millions of subscribers. If they could get the word about CS:GO Lotto to their huge audiences, they were guaranteed to see at least some success. (Stream) But, more importantly neither YouTuber mentioned the fact they were part-owners of CS:GO They just kept making videos. Winning money and losing money on roulette spins and coin flips just like they were anybody else and not part-owners of the website. (Stream) But someone noticed. A YouTuber called HonorTheCall released a video on June 27, 2016 that first made the allegations that Tmartn and ProSyndicate were part-owners of CS:GO “Hold onto your pants it’s about to go down, this may be the biggest scandal in CoD community which has nothing to do with Call of Duty.” “Let me be clear here, I’m not accusing anyone, I found some info and I want to show it to my viewers.” “So TmarTn and ProSyndicate visit a CS:GO gambling site called CS:GO I did some digging into this and holy sh*t balls.” “This site was registered as a business in Orlando Florida, I thought it’s just a coincidence since TmarTn also lives in Orlando. But no it wasn’t, Trevor Martin, aka TmarTn is the director of this site, he f***ing owns the damn site.” He also accused the pair of faking their reactions to their big wins and losses in their YouTube videos. “These two on the website CS:GO and they allegedly do fake gambling and pretend to win thousands of dollars and also sometimes pretend to lose it too.” Those claims were further backed up by popular YouTube channel H3H3 Productions, who released a video going over HonorTheCall’s allegations and pointed out that whether or not TmarTn and ProSyndicate were manipulating the results, the fact that they could just wasn’t a good look. “So here he fairy tale story, you know, 50 dollars up to thousands.” “In a thirteen minute video.” “Terrific stuff here guys.” (Stream) “Do you think it’s possible he faked his reaction and faked the actul results of the bet?” “It’s possible, it’s very possible.” “I don’t know if he did but it’s possible, and that’s why you don’t gamble on your own site.” “It doesn’t need to be sent, it’s just, it’s obscene.” So with all the allegations out there, how did TmarTn and ProSyndicate react? Well Syndicate took the high ground and apologized and promised to be more transparent in the future but he’s been in trouble for doing things like this before, so it remains to be seen how genuine that was. But TmarTn doubled down. “What’s going on guys, TmarT here and I hope you guys having a fantastic Monday I just wanted to make a quick little vlog to talk to you guys and to kinda lay everything out on the line. Give you guys the full true story straight from the source. Because unfortunately, and I really, I don’t understand kind of where it’s coming from but threre is gonna be a little bit of a sh*tstorm headed this way and some of the drama channels are gonna pick up on it. I’m sure a lot of the hater channels are gonna pick up on it. But I wanted you guys to know exactly what’s going on so you guys can make your own well-informed decisions. So basically what’s breaking news now, is that myself and a few other people including Tom or ProSyndicate own CS:GO Lotto. And this is something that has never been a secret. I don’t understand why this is big breaking news now because it’s never been under wraps. It’s never been a secret.” The problem is that it was a secret. At least to his viewers. And that caught the attention of the United States Federal Trade Commission, who didn’t take kindly to the whole situation. And launched and investigation into both TmarTn and ProSyndicate. A few days after that. Tmartn released an apology video that he quickly took down, Probably because the FTC was already after him. “Cooper I have no idea how I’m gonna record this video dude.” “Now my connection to CS:GO Lotto has been a matter of public record since the company was first organized in December of 2015.” “However I do feel like I owe you guys an apology. I am sorry to each and every one of you who felt like that was not made clear enough to you.” The FTC taking interest in two YouTubers sparked headlines that made some people noticed that Valve appeared to be enabling underage gambling. Which led some people to file class-action lawsuits against Valve. See, there’s no way of knowing for sure, but it seems like Valve had to have known that people were using CS:GO skins as gambling chips. It seems there’s pretty much no way for them not have known. Plus, some people at the time argued that the growth of CS:GO gambling was in turn, good for the growth of Valve. Though Valve has denied that. (Stream) For one, it meant more people were playing CS:GO. Which is good for Valve. but more importantly, Valve takes a 15 percent cut on every sale in the Steam marketplace. So every skin bought is money in Valve’s pocket too. And when so many players were rapidly cashing skins in with bots then cashing them out to turn their liquid asset to a solid one, Valve was theoretically raking in cash. But even Valve can’t stand up to US gambling laws, and eventually they sent out cease and desist letters to 23 CS:GO skin gambling sites. Including CS:GO lotto. The problem is that allegations about Valve’s involvement with skin gambling ran deeper than that. According to the letter Valve sent out, the sites were violating the Steam Subscriber Agreement by using Steam accounts for commercial gain. However, you have to think that Valve knew about this. It wasn’t a secret, just ignored. (Stream) Back to our intrepid scam artists. TmarTn and ProSyndicate managed to avoid any jail time and didn’t even get fined. The FTC let them off with a slap on the wrist. Despite having been found to have paid other YouTubers and Twitch streamers between $2,500 and $55,000 to promote CS:GO Lotto without disclosing that relationship. All they had to do was admit they were in the wrong. And they have to disclose any relationship like this in the future. But how did TmarTn and ProSyndicate get away with it? Well, there was this weird loophole. Speaking to Polygon, TmarTn and ProSyndicate’s lawyer Coleman Watson explained that CS:GO Lotto wasn’t technically gambling. See, if you looked closely at the terms of use, CS:GO Lotto said that by using the site, you are acknowledging that you could at any point ask for an alternative method of entry to any game on the site. That’s right. You didn’t have to pay. If you just read the fine print, you would know that CS:GO Lotto would let you play for free as many times as you wanted. (Stream) It’s not like CS:GO’s gambling underground would have lasted that much longer without all this publcity. TmarTn and ProSyndicate didn’t single handedly tank it. This was a massive unregulated, gambling industry that people were going to notice eventually. But their dumb scam is why people noticed it when they did. But while they were driving off into the sunset, the CS:GO gambling industry was blowing up behind them. They may have burned down the casino, but they still got out of it with all their ill-gotten gains.

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100 thoughts on “The 2016 CS:GO Skin Gambling Scandal: TmarTn, ProSyndicate and the FTC

  1. To me, this got overblown, the only thing they did wrong was not announce that they owned the site, that’s it. If children chose to gamble guess whose fault that is, shitty, uninformed parents, not theirs, is it unethical? Depends who you are, but it isn’t illegal otherwise it wouldn’t be operating. I understand it got shut down and cost them lots of money but it’s a casino, casinos aren’t exactly clean money. People are overblowing this, the only thing they did wrong was not announce they own it

  2. Dude I gambled so much money on esports games when I was 16. I no longer do it but on the plus side it got me into pro csgo

  3. god i remember watching syndicates old videos. after i found out about this shit i couldn't even fucking look at his channel anymore. these two are absolute scumbags that deserve to be in prison, but we all know that would never happen.

  4. Legally they got away with it, but Their image, and reputation, has been tarnished and ruined FOREVER. Period.

  5. It's fuckin insane that children gambling was not an issue for the FTC and to this day it still happens.

  6. If you don't want underage gambling, educate your children and prevent them from using your credit cards. I'm so sick of this ridiculous argument that everything that revolves around video games and video game culture needs to be moderated with kids in mind. Every reasonable check for that sort of thing through valve already exists, what we need to remember is that individual responsibility does too.

  7. 8:10
    He’s thinking “time to story up and gain some sympathy backers….lol that guy is a fucking snake

  8. I'm not the biggest fan of Tom or tmartn tom on his vlogs is very cocky and full of himself and tmartn looks like a thumb or a worm

  9. Because of them, gone the days of me buying a thousand cases for $3 due to regional differences and betting them by the tens (30 cents per bet because each case was 3 cents in the US steam market) so reap on those sweet 5-15% wins, only one of which will already made my money back.

  10. Why tf do Csgo players want skins anyways? Like just use a random skin it’s not going to change your skill(as far as I know)

  11. I've been following TmarTn since oh god what, MW3 days and I was unaware of this shit happening. It made me wonder how the fuck he has this house and lifestyle off video games. And there's this quote by many parents: Video games will get you nowhere. SMH.

  12. props to both of them, they found a hustle in this crazy fucked up world and made their $$$

    that's all anyone is trying to do, blame the suckers for being marks. be a smart consumer

  13. After the explosion, some people get fame, shine, and respect because of their integrity revealed: 3kliksphilip and TheWarOwl.

  14. It definitely was a secret. I don’t know why tmartn thinks it’s not. Him and pro syndicate before the backlash happened told no one that they own the site. And people did investigate that they own the site without telling anyone. There literally so shady for doing that.

  15. yet here we are, infitity ward does affiliation with someone who scammed thousands if not millions of kids to gamble on their site

  16. 8:15 about to record apology video hold up let me make sure they get my staircase to show i live in a two story house, and have a shiny truck in view. oh and fuck it lets get some sympathy points and throw in my dog hell yeah

  17. If they scammed a shit ton of people why didn't they get put in jail or prison. Or did they break any laws sorry I'm not watching this video. I guess there was no proof 😂😒

  18. I always thought tmartn was a faggot. Never liked him. I liked syndicate though, then this came out and I haven’t watched one of his videos since.

  19. I can’t stand tmartns voice. He always sounds like he’s trying to push out a really hard poo while he thinks at 4 vowels every 3 seconds

  20. thinking back to this, I would love to see TmarTn, ProSyndicate, RiceGum, and the Pauls just eat bricks to the face for promoting this gambling shit to children.

  21. Gambling is made to a normal thing for new generation, with gambling on ring on lootbox in any game. The habit that will follow you to your Death. But it's nothing new, that people still money from stupid kids. And "your steam money in steam wallet can't be converted into !realmoney! again from selling items on market."

  22. 6:57 this shit is what really drives me fucking mad. This VLOG apology shit. I swear this is going to be like a CEO in like 20 years of some huge company that will have a huge story break and this is how the CEO will respond to the news. Just a selfie vlogging camera on CNN in that happy tone.

  23. Their channels are so dead right now but it pisses me off that they still have fans at all. They should be in jail.

  24. Valve has nothing to do with this since they didn’t say gamble they said you could gamble people are fucking retarted

  25. i’m not mad about this ever cause i’m not dumb enough to gamble. It’s wrong no matter what so if you actually did this then you deserve it.

    I obviously didn’t like Tom less cause i didn’t gamble for some dumb skins

  26. Lol so what all these ppl in the comments probably would have done the same thing I love toms videos I could care less if he did this. Only dumb people would bet money online anyway.

  27. So I found this new site that still works called CSGOEmpire you get a free case when you join just use the code "%%%" (im not even trolling lol)

  28. If you want to gamble it should be your choice, and stupid parents should pay attention to what their brain damaged kids are doing .

  29. I agree with a lot that is being said here, but they have a lot of their facts wrong. The first major thing is that the skins were the chips. This is important because it looks even less like real cash to people not involved in the industry. Second of all Valve was not profiting off of the transactions, there was nothing to profit off considering the transactions were just skins moving from one place to another. This is also important for not making it look like real gambling. The casinos never "cashed out" your "chips" otherwise known as skins. The only thing Valve were getting was the opening boxes because the steam marketplace was rarely used for buying and selling skins. There were outside sites that made the process easier, cheaper, and ended with real cash in your pocket instead of steam currency. These things combined is what made the gambling sites so dangerous. To a lot of the people looking at these sites, including some of the people who got addicted to it, it didnt seem like gambling. It seemed innocent to put your skins on the line

  30. I knew that these guys were scamming as soon as I saw the first tmrtin vid in my recommended.
    With the over the top reactions and shitty acting I’m surprised so many Dumbasses fell for it.

  31. LMAO WHAT I USED TO THINK TMARTN WAS FYE WHEN I WAS A KID BUT HE WAS A LIAR THIS WHOLE TIME. Lmao too bad I already don’t watch him anymore.

  32. meanwhile, all the kids under 18 where i live played mobile games riddled with gacha mechanic which practically gambling anyway, yet here the government basically do nothing about it, and its not even spare cnage either, some of the IAP cost at leas $100 which is a lot where i lived, sure the TOS said 18 and up but even 12 y/o kids these day have phone

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