[Update 7/9/2016: The FTC is aware of the CS: GO gambling scandals]
[Original article:] Over the weekend a couple of videos have surfaced featuring an investigation into YouTubers Tmartn and ProSyndicate. They host all different kinds of content on their channels, but none more controversial than the promotion of a site called CSGOLotto.com. It’s a gambling site that allows gamers to trade and bet on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive items. It turns out that the duo actually own the site and that they’ve been promoting the gambling site on their YouTube channels without disclosure.
YouTuber HonorTheCall did an eight minute video breaking down claims made by YouTuber TmarTn, real name Trevor A. Martin, where after being called out for promoting the CS: GO Lotto gambling website without disclosing that he owned it, Martin made a video stating that he has always disclosed this information and that it was never a secret. You can check out the video below.
Now the trouble here is that Trevor A. Martin has been promoting the CS: GO Lotto website as if it were just a random website, as evidenced in the video above. However, it turns out that he owns the website in connection with YouTuber ProSyndicate, real name Tom Cassell. Martin made a rebuttal video claiming that this was never hidden and that it’s always been front and center in his videos.
According to Martin, he states…
“The problem with that would be if I didn’t divulge that information – and I do. You can look in the description of every single one of my CS: GO Lotto videos – it says in there like ‘Thank you CS:GO Lotto’ or either ‘Sponsoring’ or ‘Made in collaboration with’ – whatever terminology I’ve used in the past. Every single one of those has that listed.”
While saying this Martin makes a couple of tells, including the elongated closing of the eyes when saying the phrase “CS: GO Lotto videos”, and he also briefly turns away from the camera to pause when it comes time to talk about what the disclosure actually says. Usually, if someone does something frequently like post disclosures, they wouldn’t have to think about what the disclosure says, they would already know what the disclosure says.
But HonorTheCall wasn’t the only one who fact checked TmarTn’s claims. YouTube outlet H3H3Productions also fact checked the claims and came up with the same conclusion as HonorTheCall. In fact, H3H3 searches through the dates and found that it wasn’t until after the videos went up calling out TmarTn did Martin actually go back and make the edits to disclose his ties to CS:GO Lotto.
You can check out the 13 minute video below.
As part of the rebuttal clip Martin claims that he didn’t originally own CS: GO Lotto but they approached him after he made the video and that’s when he became the owner.
However, charter information was uncovered where it shows that Trevor A. Martin and Tom Cassell originally helped found CS: GO Lotto from out of Orlando, Florida.
Not only that, but H3H3Productions mentions that if you check Martin’s LinkedIn page he has no mention of CS:GO Lotto on there at all. If it was a business venture that was never a secret, why isn’t it on his LinkedIn page with the rest of his business ventures?
However, Martin and company did have to register with the Better Business Bureau, and in doing so you can see that the Better Business Bureau registry information for CS: GO Lotto is the same as the one in the charter above. It even lists the president as a Mr. Trevor Martin. There were a couple of complaints filed against the organization back at the beginning of March of this year.
After H3H3Productions and other diggers started posting the information about Martin and Cassell’s lack of disclosure and the additional facts proving that they had started the gambling website for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and used their YouTube channels to promote the site while reaping financial benefits from it – doing so without disclosure – Martin responded by quickly making some of the videos private.
Interestingly enough, Cassell actually still has his two videos up on his ProSyndicate account (as of the writing of this article), talking about gambling in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive using the CS:GO Lotto website.
What’s worse yet is that this isn’t even the first time that Martin and Cassell have come under the microscope of violating FTC regulation and ethics policies regarding endorsements and sponsorships.
According to PC Invasion, Cassell was one of the many who were named in the Machinima XB1M13 campaign from a couple of years ago, where the FTC let the YouTube content management corporation (and the participating YouTubers) off with a warning.
Even some of Martin’s older videos containing the links to CS: GO Lotto still don’t have proper disclosure about his ties to the company.
Even more than that, Cassell and Martin could be in actual breach of Florida state laws regarding gambling. According to the Florida gambling laws over on the Gambling Law US website, they explicitly state in section 849.11 that playing games by chance of lot with a monetary delivery thereof is a misdemeanor. The text explicitly says…
“Whoever sets up, promotes or plays at any game of chance by lot or with dice, cards, numbers, hazards or any other gambling device whatever for, or for the disposal of money or other thing of value or under the pretext of a sale, gift or delivery thereof, or for any right, share or interest therein, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree,”
What’s more is that Martin engaged in the promotion of CS: GO Lotto in his YouTube videos without specifying that those under 18 should not use the site, despite the fact that there are explicit laws setup in the state of Florida to prohibit minors or those underage from participating in acts of gambling. According to the Florida state law, the permissible age for gambling is 18.
In section 849.04, it discusses “permitting minors and persons under guardianship to gamble”. It clearly states…
“The proprietor, owner, or keeper of any E. O., keno or pool table, or billiard table, wheel of fortune, or other game of chance kept for the purpose of betting, who willfully and knowingly allows a minor or person who is mentally incompetent or under guardianship to play at such game or to bet on such game of chance; or whoever aids or abets or otherwise encourages such playing or betting of any money or other valuable thing upon the result of such game of chance by a minor or person who is mentally incompetent or under guardianship, commits a felony of the third degree”
[Update 7/7/2016:] According to PC Invasion, CS: GO Lotto’s legal representative, Coleman Watson, stated that only on the privacy page did they mention that those under the age of 13 would not have their privacy data knowingly collected, but that the site was always geared toward those above 18 years of age.
To their credit, they do mention in the terms of service on CSGOLotto.com that users registering for the site should be above the age of 18. But to their discredit, actually signing up is as simple as logging in with a Steam account and accepting the terms of service, which has a simple check button to say that you’re at least 18 years of age. So kids of any age with access to a Steam account can seemingly log into the site to start using the services with the simple check of a button.
Additionally, the terms of service doesn’t actually mention being certified by the state of Florida to operate as a legal gambling outlet, nor do they mention having any licenses to allow for gambling to take place through the site.
In regards to the non-disclosure of their affiliation with CS: GO Lotto in their YouTube videos, you can inform the FTC about these issues using their user complaint form. You can also alert the Florida state authorities about the gambling issues using the Citizen Service forms. Hopefully Martin and Cassell will be more vigilant in disclosing that information in future videos.
[Update 7/4/2016: PC GamesN is reporting that another YouTuber with equity in CS: GO Lotto has come forward to acknowledge his lack of disclosure regarding promotional affiliations with the site on his YouTube channel and Twitch stream. Josh “JoshOG” Beaver was called out for the lack of disclosure in his content covering CS: GO Lotto while holding a position as one of its owners. The content creator has begun deleting and making various videos private that promoted CS: GO Lotto without disclosure.
YouTube user Adam Bentham managed to capture a clip of “JoshOG” Beaver discussing his ties with CS: GO Lotto during a recent Twitch live-stream. You can view the video below.
If you don’t have time to listen to the video, “JoshOG” Beaver states…
“It’s really, really not uncommon for a sponsor to have an equity stake. Like, there’s actually a lot of streamers – at least used to have some stakes in some different betting websites.
“[…] I’m listed as secretary [on the CS: GO Lotto charter] because I do have some equity stakes. So I am a part of the charter and they have to put me as something – they have to label me as something – so I’m the secretary.”
Josh “JoshOG” Beaver also had images of CS: GO Lotto plastered across his channel but with no disclosure that he had a financial vestment in the company or that he was one of the owners. An image was captured of the logos on his channel promoting CS: GO Lotto.
According to PC GamesN, Martin and Cassell will make official statements regarding the controversy surrounding CS: GO Lotto.