Thomas Cassell (ProSyndicate) and Thomas Martin (TmarTn) have posted videos on a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling site, CS:GO Lotto, without disclosing that they are the Vice President and President respectively.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is an extremely popular multiplayer shooter developed by Valve, with over 251,000 people playing it at the time of writing. In CS:GO, players can randomly win a weapon case at the end of each match. These can be unlocked with keys purchased through Steam, the digital distribution platform developed by Valve. Once unlocked, players experience a slot machine-style spin that rewards them with a random skin valued between 3p and £400.
Over the past couple of years, there has been a rise in CS:GO gambling sites. Although Valve doesn’t explicitly support them, they allow Steam users to link their accounts to them. Players of any age can bet their skins directly against other people, or in huge pools worth thousands of real-life money. Normally this would be illegal if you were under the age of 18. However, because players are not technically betting money, it is apparently fine.
Yep, despite the fact that over $2.3 billion worth of skins was wagered on e-sports matches in 2015, it is still not gambling. Okay…
On June 27, 2016 a small YouTuber, HonorTheCall, released a video detailing his research behind CS:GO Lotto, Cassell, and Martin. In it, he showed a clip of Martin talking about CS:GO Lotto as if he had just stumbled upon it, despite the fact that he was currently President. Martin also said: “[CS:GO Lotto are] talking to me about potentially doing a skin sponsorship. They’ll give me a skins to be able to bet on the site and stuff.”
As far as I know, Cassell never pretended that he stumbled upon CS:GO Lotto. He was actually upfront from the get-go that there were financial ties between himself and CS:GO Lotto, although he failed to mention he owned the website. According to his Twitter, Cassell even checked with a YouTube employee to see if anything more was needed, and there wasn’t. However, he has not always been that transparent.
In 2013, Cassell was one of many YouTubers commissioned by Machinima to produce videos on the Xbox One launch title, Ryse: Son of Rome in a way that “[showcased] Microsoft in a positive light.” This was a deal made between Machinima and the marketing firm StarCom MediaVest Group, Inc., who were acting on behalf of Microsoft. Like many fellow YouTubers, he failed to disclose that he was sponsored for the video.
In 2015, Cassell failed to disclose that he co-founded 3BlackDot, the studio behind Dead Realms, in a video on the Early Access game. Despite the fact that he had mentioned he was involved in the company before, FTC regulations state that a single disclosure is not enough “because people visiting your site might read individual reviews or watch individual videos without seeing the disclosure on your home page.”
Martin recorded a vlog in response to HonorTheCall, which is no longer available. During it, he stated:
1. The fact that he and Syndicate own CS:GO Lotto has never been a secret.
2. CS:GO Lotto is a company. TmarTn Enterprises is a company. CS:GO Lotto pays TmarTn Enterprises for promotion. TmarTn Enterprises promotes CS:GO Lotto.
3. He disclosed that he was financially involved with CS:GO Lotto in all of his videos.
However in a video published on November 2, 2015, Martin said that “[Brock and I] found this new site CS:GO Lotto.” He purposefully tried to deceive his fans by telling them he stumbled upon the site, as opposed to actually owning it.
In response to the second point, I respect the fact the both CS:GO Lotto and TmarTn Enterprises are separate companies. That doesn’t excuse the fact that Martin failed to disclose he was involved in CS:GO Lotto. And despite them being separate companies, Martin owns both of them. He may as well have picked some money up in his left hand, and given it to his right hand.
On another video about CS:GO Lotto published on December 1st, 2015, there was simply a mention of CS:GO Lotto in the description. However, sometime between April 23rd and the video being deleted, the description was changed to indicate a financial tie between Martin and CS:GO Lotto.
It wasn’t until Sunday, when Ethan Klein of H3H3 Productions published a video on the topic, that Cassell and Martin responded to the claims on social media. Martin has since deleted his tweet, with the promise of an official response sometime today.
I apologize to anyone who feels mislead regarding the ownership of @CSGOLotto. I will always be more transparent from here on out!
— Mr. Syndicate (@ProSyndicate) July 4, 2016
We have reached out for a statement from both Cassell and Martin, and will keep this article up-to-date as the story develops.