A Seattle man has filed a lawsuit against Valve, the developer being games like Half-Life and Portal 2 and the creator of the massive online PC game purchasing portal Steam, accusing the company of working with offshore companies in a big giant illegal gambling operation.
As the Seattle Times reports, Michael McLeod of Fairfield, Conn., filed the suit, saying that he’s been betting on Valve’s shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive since 2014, and apparently, he’s lost money. He says Valve turns a blind eye to CS:GO betting since it’s not technically illegal, since gamblers and the sites that make it possible do it in a convoluted way to skirt the law.
It works like this: CS:GO includes a bunch of digital items that players can purchase in the game to customize their characters (Valve does the same thing with its free shooter Team Fortress 2). Players buy those items and use them to bet on Counter-Strike matches instead of actual money. Since the digital goods are what they’re betting, they’re not technically breaking betting laws.
Once you win a big pile of digital hats or whatever, there are other sites that will let you trade them in for cash, like chips at a casino. McLeod says that whole exchange breaks the law, and that Valve isn’t doing anything to curtail the industry that lets it happen. The lawsuit accuses the company of racketeering by working with the sites that make CS:GO gambling possible, providing “money, technical support and advice to such websites as CSGO Lounge and Diamonds, which take bets, and OPSkins, which runs a market where virtual goods are traded and can be redeemed for cash,” according to the Seattle Times.
McLeod also wants to make the suit class-action, which would potentially bring in a ton of people as plaintiffs, but the filing doesn’t include a number as far as damages McLeod is asking for.
There’s potentially a lot of money at stake in the suit, though. Valve was reportedly worth $1.5 billion in 2005, and Steam has only grown since then. And video game gambling with digital goods is a massive industry, too, with gamblers betting $7.4 billion every year, the Seattle Times reports. If Valve gets hammered for its role in the gambling scene, it could definitely cost the compay.