Federal Trade Commission settles with owners of CSGO Lotto

"It's time we retire the myth that the career of an esports pro peaks at, and is limited to, someone's late teens and early twenties." ESPN

The Federal Trade Commission has come to a settlement agreement with YouTube content creators Trevor "TMarTn" Martin and Thomas "Syndicate" Cassell after failure to disclose their ownership in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive skins gambling site CSGO Lotto.

According to the agreement, which was published by the FTC on Tuesday, there will be no fine issued to Martin or Cassell for violating the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Act, which requires full disclosure of any relationship that a video creator might have with a product he or she is promoting. If Martin or Cassell violates that law again, though, they will be subject to fines that total $40,654 per infraction.

Skins gambling sites offered betting through the use of decorative in-game items that adorn weapons in Counter-Strike. Eilers & Krejcik Gaming and Narus Advisors estimated that skin betting was a $5 billion marketplace in 2016, and without an age limit on skin betting, teenage players became particularly at risk for developing gambling habits, as reported in a 2017 ESPN investigation. Counter-Strike developer Valve has faced class-action lawsuits because of its previous lack of policing of these sites, with CSGO Lotto being one of the more prominent examples.

The CSGO Lotto incident is the third time Cassell has been found to be in violation of FTC law. In 2013, Cassell, his network Machinima and a California-based advertising company were punished for not disclosing their paid relationship with Microsoft to promote the company's Xbox One console. In 2015, Cassell came under fire again, after a report from Gamasutra, for a potential violation for promoting the game Dead Realm.

Martin and Cassell's ownership in CSGO Lotto was first revealed in June 2016 by YouTuber HonortheCall, who showed Florida incorporation records that proved their ownership. Martin and Cassell confirmed their ownership of the site in July.

CSGO Lotto was one of several skins gambling sites to receive a cease-and-desist letter from Valve. It ceased operations shortly after that letter.