S:GO gambling has been one of the biggest talking points in esports in 2016. The industry has exploded in popularity—and revenue. A Bloomberg report estimated that skin gambling brings in more than $2 billion a year, more than the estimated value of the entire esports industry. Skin gambling has always occupied a legal gray area. But a spate of lawsuits and controversies in recent weeks have put a harsh spotlight on the industry and cast its future in doubt.
On July 3, a YouTuber revealed that popular broadcasters Trevor “TmarTn” Martin (who is also a co-owner of the esports organization EnVyUs) and Thomas "ProSyndicate" Cassell had gambled on a site and won big—without disclosing they were, in fact, the site's owners. Within a week, Maring and Cassell were named (along with Valve) in a class action lawsuit claiming their website had promoted gambling to minors. An earlier class action suit, filed on June 24, also named Valve as a co-defendant.
Twitch’s own user agreement prohibits broadcasters from streaming anything that shows them breaking a game’s terms of service. Or, as Twitch put it: “Content in which the broadcaster uses or promotes services that violate Valve’s stated restrictions is prohibited on Twitch.”