[Update 7/5/2016:] E-mails have been leaked that show how SteamLoto worked with Lewis to rig the unboxing videos and trick viewers into thinking that the site regularly gives out high-value content.
[Original article:] Another YouTuber has been involved in yet another breach of Federal Trade Commission regulations, this time it’s Lewis “PsiSyndicate” Stewart, a YouTuber out of Newcastle, England.
TechRaptor caught wind of the story when Lewis decided to “expose” himself and talk about the times when he was actually approached by a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling site called SteamLoto. Lewis claims he was able to attain two high-value skins called the Dragon Lore Sniper Rifle and Doppler Ruby Karambit Knife – two very rare skins in the game – through his affiliation with SteamLoto. The items were estimated to be worth around $3,200.
Lewis claims that he was approached by SteamLoto to promote the site on his channel and in exchange they would give him high-value skins for his account. He explains his connection to the gambling site, his reasoning behind the collaboration and his attempts to rectify himself in the video below. He also reveals that he will be abiding by FTC regulation from now on when it comes to disclosures.
The important part of the video is quoted below, where Lewis states…
“So first of all, SteamLoto – which of course is this website which is responsible for these videos – is not going to want me to say this, but nonetheless the [two Counter-Strike: GO unboxing videos on the SteamLoto website] were both rigged.”
The videos were designed to make it appear as if gamers would be able to randomly get their hands on some of the most top tier items in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive by spending just a few dollars on the random item boxes. However, Lewis PsiSyndicate was setup to receive high-end items as part of a promotion for SteamLoto.
After receiving the skins and participating in the promotion for SteamLoto, Lewis decided to do a giveaway for the Dragon Lore skin as an indirect way of recompense. It’s a four minute video that you can check out below.
In the original video where he supposedly “won” the Dragon Lore skin for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – it clocks in at 12 minutes – at around the 6:40 mark he unboxes the Dragon Lore after spending a few minutes buying and unboxing a few items. After a couple of low-tier items, Lewis eventually unboxes the Dragon Lore.
Just like with TmarTn and ProSyndicate, Lewis pretends in the video that he just so happened to come across SteamLoto, even though they approached him for the promotion. This is a clear violation of the FTC guidelines, where paid endorsements must be disclosed in a clear and conspicuous way for viewers.
He doesn’t go into detail how the rig was setup but the original Dragon Lore unboxing video to date has managed 1.3 million views. If you read the comments some people mention how much they’ve been spending on SteamLoto in an attempt to win some high-tier gear, hoping to get their hands on a Dragon Lore just like Lewis.
This Counter-Striker: Global Offensive gambling sub-culture has literally festered into the very kind of gambling atmosphere that was at one point growing around Diablo III when Blizzard had the Real-Money Auction House active. Thankfully Blizzard shutdown the RMAH following complaints and several cases of people being defrauded.
While South Korea has very stringent laws policies surrounding video games, they were quick to call out Diablo III’s RMAH for being a potential gambling hazard, prohibiting the game from releasing in Korea until Blizzard disabled the RMAH, as reported by PC Gamer.
In this case, the gambling culture surrounding Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has morphed into this expansive beast. In H3H3Productions‘ report on TmarTn they reported that the gambling ring is worth around $2.3 billion in annual intake. A large part of that is thanks to prominent YouTubers promoting these sites and doing things like the unboxing videos in an attempt to lure in young gamers.
TmarTn and ProSyndicate are currently catching a lot of heat for running their own Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling den, and for promoting in some of their videos the site to those under the age of 18, which is a third-degree felony in the state of Florida.
On the upside, at least Lewis PsiSyndicate had the temerity to step forward and admit his wrongdoing, as well as promise to further disclose sponsorships and endorsements in future videos. YouTuber ProSyndicate has also promised to be more “transparent” in future dealings with sponsorships, endorsements and promotional content.
Transparency from here on out! 👏
— Mr.Syndicate (@ProSyndicate) July 4, 2016
Deceiving millions of people into using a gambling service where the odds of winning are not true to what’s being displayed in the videos is not only fraud, but it goes a bit deeper given that some of these people have actual corporate affiliations with these gambling sites, making this nefarious practice closer to the likes of profiteering. It’s a nasty trend within the gaming media industry that seems to be bubbling to the surface in recent times.