Steam bans gambling with new conduct changes

Bet it all on somewhere that's not Steam.

Valve has released a change to its code of conduct, and it's taking a firmer stance against operations that use its platform to facilitate gambling and wagers. The new conduct now expressly forbids users from "engaging in commercial activity," which lists starting contests and doing any type of betting in its list of banworthy offenses. 

The mention of gambling is important, given its relationship to the Steam marketplace. It's been a known issue for years, and being expressly against gambling in its code of conduct shows that Valve is willing to take a stance against the practice.

Last year, a video in late 2022 from People Make Games further showed how deeply Valve was allowing third-party gambling sites to barter in-game skins for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to get real world money. 

According to that video, those sites were using the Steam API to draw players' attention. It also helps that gambling had already been a part of popular Valve games like Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2, and joining such sites was reportedly very easy to do. 

The more direct pushback against gambling calls into question how this will effect the Community Market. It's been a part of Valve's business for years, and grants the studio a 10 percent cut of real world revenue when players sell in-game items specifically from Valve titles. 

Valve's earlier response to gambling concerns fell short

Prior to the PMG video, Valve was generally passive on gambling, even when it called on those betting hubs to leave its storefront. Genuine as that move may have been at the time, it appeared to have actually done little to address the issue. 

The developer's neutrality was later met with a lawsuit by the parents of Steam users. Those parents alleged their kids bought Counter-Strike skins from those sites, but the suit was later dismissed by a judge who said the developer wasn't at fault for their kids' choices. 

Current and ex-developers at Valve told PMG for its video that the studio was allegedly hands off by choice. For a studio said to be "as neutral as they can," this may be its most active choice in some time. 

But as big a move as this code of conduct is in writing, it won't mean anything if Valve doesn't actively enforce the rule going forward. That kind of bet will take time to truly play out. 

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