Washington State Gambling Commissioner Addresses Valve

It is not an unknown thing that Valve has been having some issue with third party sites allegedly ‘trading’ skins while watching matches. Some call it gambling. So, earlier this week, a letter from the Washington State Gambling Commission addressed to Valve set the Internet ablaze with both negative and positive outbursts.

The Commission demanded that Valve, the Washington-based publisher of Counter-Strike:Global Offensive and Dota 2, immediately shut down all in-game skin trading operations by any means necessary. Their letter, which you can read here, addressed to Valve’s Managing Director, Gabe Newell, threatened legal action including “seizure and forfeiture of any property related to illegal gambling companies, forfeiture of Valve Corporation’s corporate charter, and possible criminal charges to employees.”

But despite the scary legal language, WSGC Commissioner, Chris Stearns, says,” the warning was intended to encourage Valve to cooperate with the commission’s investigation into skin gambling.” In an interview, Stearns said the WSGC really just wants to know what steps Valve has taken to comply with the law.

“Right now, what we specifically asked them for is just to describe to us the steps they’re taking. We sincerely hope Valve will work with us, because I think that’ll help us do a better job. There’s some really good and smart people over there.”

Stearns said the WSGC is now confident that skin betting counts as gambling for regulatory purposes. The problem wasn’t so much that people were gambling with skins, in fact the WSGC might not have even taken notice, however, the commission has received multiple citizen complaints that minors happen to be involved in the skin betting. Washington’s gambling laws are more restrictive than most states and the state legislature has taken more of a strong stance against online gambling.

Despite the urgency of the WSGC’s letter, which gives Valve “Until October 14th, 2016” (so…a week), Stearns seemed to expect the process will take time.

“We’re just trying to have a sensible approach to things. I wish I could tell you we had some kind of typical course to fall back on, but honestly this is a brand new environment for us … eSports wagering is really a recent phenomena.”

He tried to convey that the WSGC are not “anti-gaming,” and aren’t against eSports betting on principle. “People like to gamble, we just want to make sure it’s being done legally.”

What do you think about the whole ordeal? Do you believe the WSGC is giving Valve fair time to irradiate the gambling sites? Do you think Valve should be responsible for them? Tell us in the comments below.


Johnny and his beard live in NY where he obsesses over breakfast cereals and Bob’s Burgers. You can find him on Twitter spouting nonsensically @SomeBeardy2Love