Steam’s online code of conduct just got an update and, for the most part, it’s filled with the expected language prohibiting explicitly illegal activity, harassment, use of cheat programs, and manipulation of the Steam client. But a fresh addition to the code of conduct is a strict ban on “commercial activity,” which includes gambling, a topic of controversy and legal issues for Valve in the past.
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Valve may have once promoted CS:GO’s gun skin marketplace as letting you “experience all the illicit thrills of black market weapons trafficking” without any of the bad stuff, but that same store quickly led to controversy. As gambling on skins thrived via what Forbes described as a “liquid market to convert each gun or knife back into cash,” it caught the attention of some legal experts. They believe the same regulatory structures that are in place for gambling in traditional sports should be in place for games, based on the value attached to CS:GO skins following the results of pro matches (which exceeded $2 billion in 2015 alone) and the large amounts of spending connected to it.
Valve has since emerged victorious from legal claims that tried to hold it accountable for playing a role in unregulated gambling. Now, in order to avoid any nebulous interpretation of Valve’s relationship to illicit gambling sites and activity, Steam, its digital storefront, has had its online code of conduct updated to expressly prohibit gambling. Anyone caught violating this policy risks an account ban.
Spotted by CS:GO collector xMercy, gambling was added to prohibitions against commercial activity, which includes a list of bannable offenses such as “buying or selling Steam accounts,” selling gift cards, “begging,”or even “posting advertisements.”
As xMercy points out, “commercial activity” was something Valve had always been vigilant about on Steam. The significant change here is the direct mention of gambling.
Interest in CS:GO skins is likely to remain high, but now Valve has made it explicitly clear that it won’t tolerate direct uses of the service to facilitate unchecked gambling.