Today in soul-destroying failure of regulatory structures news, the two owners of skins gambling site CSGOLotto have escaped without FTC punishment. YouTubers Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Thomas “Syndicate” Cassell will admit no culpability and pay no fines in the resolution of the FTC complaint.
The FTC focused purely on the issue of disclosure: the fact that Martin and Cassell were both 42.5% owners of the gambling site CSGOLotto, and actively promoted that site on their YouTube channels with titles like “HOW TO WIN $13,000 IN 5 MINUTES (CS-GO Betting)” and “ALL OR NOTHING! (CS:GO Betting).” The site ownership was not disclosed in these videos, and Martin infamously introduced CSGOLotto to his subscribers with the words “so I’ve found this new site”.
As part of the FTC complaint, it has also been revealed that Martin and Cassell paid other (unnamed, it seems) YouTube creators “between $2,500 and $55,000” to promote CSGOLotto. Payments included the provision that said YouTubers could reveal nothing negative about the CSGOLotto site.
At no point does the FTC touch the issue that significant numbers of Martin and Cassell’s audience are underage when it comes to gambling law. Nor did they address that the owners of a gambling site were depicted themselves winning large sums of money on a site entirely under their ownership and control; meaning the legitimacy of the ‘bets’ were in serious doubt.
All past disclosure infractions relating to CSGOLotto have been forgiven. The FTC will be monitoring Martin can Cassell’s businesses for future infractions, any of which could carry a fine of up to $40,654. A terrifying prospect for people who can afford to chuck $55,000 at fellow YouTubers for promotional purposes, obviously.
In addition, the FTC have updated their Endorsement Guidelines and, relating to a separate incident, sent “warning letters” to 21 ‘Influencers’ who had previously been contacted in April 2017 with “educational letters”. The FTC has not disclosed the names of those 21 people.
This is all be a pretty major disappointment to those who hoped serious, punitive action would be taken against rich, powerful people who exploited their position and their young fanbase to further enrich themselves. The FTC clearly don’t have the regulatory muscle to deal with this ‘new’ form of gambling, and US gambling regulation is also failing to adapt quickly enough to this development. It’s perhaps also worth noting that while the FTC is supposed to have a body of five Commissioners, it has been operating with just two (one Republican, one Democrat) for some time.
Despite some minor set-backs due to the fallout from this scandal in July of last year, the skins gambling business remains as active and healthy as ever.