Is there a three-strike policy with the FTC?
[Update 3: Trevor Martin has just deleted the video.]
[Update 2: Trevor Martin has published a video where he directly addresses the CSGOLotto situation. “My connection to CSGOLotto has been a matter of public record since the company was first organized in December 2015,” Martin said. “I’m sorry to each and every one of you who felt that was not made clear.”
Martin also addresses concerns raised by pundits regarding underage CSGOLotto users, stating that the site’s Terms of Service prohibit users under the age of 18 from participating in matches. Since Wayback Machine’s archive only goes to July 4, well after the controversy began, we were unable to verify whether or not this has always been the case.
“I believe every game offered on CSGOLotto has been legitimate, and I am committed to making sure that remains true,” Martin said.
Although the mea culpa addresses some of the issues raised over the past few days, it does not touch on the now-deleted video where Martin pretended to have organically discovered CSGOLotto. Instead, the apology frames the situation as a misunderstanding rather than viewers upset with alleged deception. We’ve reached out to Martin regarding a statement he promised Destructoid earlier this week, and will update the story as necessary.]
[Update: In a conversation with the FTC, Destructoid was unable to confirm the status of an investigation into CSGOLotto. “We cannot confirm or deny whether we’re investigating the situation,” an FTC representative said in a phone interview. “We’ll comment publicly if we close an investigation or issue a complaint.”
We left our contact information with the FTC, and will update this story as necessary.]
Recently, Counter-Strike betting site CSGOLotto fell under audit when it was discovered that popular gaming YouTubers TmarTn (Trevor Martin) and ProSyndicate (Tom Cassell) had failed to disclose their relationship with the company. The channel also came under fire for promoting Counter-Strike betting, a hobby of dubious legality. In addition, multiple pundits have speculated that Martin and/or Cassell had used their influence on the site to rig outcomes for entertainment purposes.
Call of Duty-centric YouTube channel HonorTheCall was the first to break the story. In their initial video, HTC notes that Martin is listed as CSGOLotto’s president — not just that, there are forms that list Martin as the company’s founder. This contradicts Martin’s implication in a previous video, where it appears as if he had just stumbled across the company.
The video in question has since been set to private, but the pertinent section has been mirrored by HTC. “We found this new site called CSGOLotto,” Martin says. “I ended up following them on Twitter, and they’re talking with me about potentially doing a skin sponsorship.” That’s almost a disclosure; speaking openly about your sponsorship plans would be the definition of honesty in any other circumstance. But the real issue is that Martin has apparently owned the site from day one.
Martin attempted to address the claims in both a vlog and comments sent to YouTuber who goes by JohnScarce. In the since-deleted video, He claims that his ownership of CSGOLotto was “never a secret.” (Over the course of my investigation for this story, I have yet to find one instance of Martin directly addressing his relationship with the site.)
He expands on that comment later, claiming that he did not own the site at the time of his initial promotion. “I just didn’t know A) if my viewers would like it, B) if the developer’s end product would be up to my standards to promote,” Martin said. “So although I was currently working with them and offering ideas and stuff, I wanted to keep it low key until I knew it would be something I would be proud of.” This both contradicts the Articles of Incorporation and Martin’s own vlog, where he takes credit for building the site with Cassell.
The story was later picked up by Ethan Klein of H3H3 Productions, where he posits that Cassell may have falsified match results. “Do you think it’s possible he faked his reaction and the actual results of the bet? It’s possible. It’s very possible,” Klein said. “I don’t know if he did, but it’s possible, and that’s why you don’t gamble on your own site.”
In HonorTheCall’s follow-up video, he reads a comment from an anonymous source who claims to have knowledge of CSGOLotto’s backend. The source claims that CSGOLotto’s owners could fix matches by altering the “percentage” that determines the winner.” Destructoid was unable to verify these claims, nor have we received direct comment from Martin or Cassell at time of publication. However, we spoke with representatives from a similar Counter-Strike betting site CSGOFast who told us that it would be impossible for site officials to fix the outcome of a match.
Cassell has not responded to Klein directly, but he did offer a statement published through his Twitter account. “I apologize to anyone who feels mislead regarding the ownership of CSGOLotto. I will always be more transparent from here on out,” Cassell said. “I do however stand very firmly behind the fact that CSGOLotto has never & will never scam/steal from players.” Regarding the match fixing claims, Cassell also claims to have a negative win/loss record through CSGOLotto.
This isn’t the first time Cassell has found himself on the wrong side of the Federal Trade Commission’s disclosure guidelines. Last year, Cassell failed to disclose his relationship to the publishers of Dead Realm, a game he covered on his channel. We could not reach the FTC for comment at time of publication due to the recent American holiday weekend.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive-centric betting has been a controversial business for some time now — thanks to a report from Bloomberg and a class-action lawsuit that claims Valve is profiting from an unregulated gambling business.
Deception, Lies, and CSGO [H3H3 Productions]