Valve has responded to an earlier notice from the Washington State Gambling Commission that accused the company of facilitating online gambling activities through features on Steam.
In a recently released letter to the State Commission, Valve states the company has taken steps to discourage Counter-Strike: Global Offensive-centric gambling in the past, and that the Commission has no factual or legal basis for such accusations.
Valve’s response, and the original implication of wrongdoing from Washington, could potentially change the way platforms like Steam handle digital item trading and sales.
The original letter from the Washington State Gambling Commission alleged that it was Valve's responsibility to stop websites from using Counter-Strike: Global Offensive skins as virtual betting chips, and that the ability to trade skins through Steam facilitated these illegal gambling activities.
“Outside of Steam and, we believe, outside of the United States, certain websites offer gambling propositions,” said legal counsel Liam Lavery on behalf of Valve. “Valve has no business relationship with such gambling sites, and indeed they can come into existence, operate, and go out of existence without Valve's knowledge.”
Lavery also notes that Valve has taken action against third-party gambling websites in the past, including disabling Steam accounts associated with gambling sites and sending out cease and desist letters to over 40 involved websites.
“Valve can enforce its user agreements against the Steam accounts of skins gambling sites, where we can identify the site and identify the corresponding account,” he said. “We welcome the chance for further communication with the Commission, if it would like to clarify the legal allegations against Valve, or alternatively to work with Valve to identify offending Steam accounts of gambling sites.”
The legality around the responsibility a company like Valve has when its properties are used for illegal gambling is still being navigated. Just a few weeks ago, a U.S. District Court Judge dismissed a class action lawsuit filed against Valve in relation to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling.