Eurogamer.net

Two weeks on, has the YouTube CS:GO Lotto controversy changed anything?

Bet you it hasn't.

A fortnight ago, YouTube stars Trevor "Tmartn" Martin and Tom "Syndicate" Cassell were discovered as the owners of gambling site CS:GO Lotto.

Both had promoted the game without properly disclosing their ownership, and presented the site as an easy way to earn money. Tmartn even pretended it was a site he'd simply stumbled upon.

The fact these YouTubers were making money from their followers, many of whom are young people, by dressing the site up as a get rich quick scheme was distasteful. The fact they did not adequately disclose their business, on the other hand, was potentially criminal.

And then there were the suggestions that what they'd shown viewers was not even realistic of anyone else's odds at winning. As others showed Eurogamer, with access to a gambling site's code you can very easily stack the odds, and gambling site owners were more than willing to rig bets for YouTube stars.

Both YouTubers paused the production of new videos while the storm of negative press played out. Many of their fans were angered. CS:GO Lotto stopped taking bids. Tmartn lawyered up.

Media watchers noted the controversy, shook their heads at those pesky YouTubers, then moved on.

And so, somewhat inevitably, a fortnight on and both YouTubers are now back making videos full-time. CS:GO Lotto is back open for business. Not even Tmartn's ridiculed and now-deleted attempt at an apology looks like it'll stop either from continuing. But then, it wouldn't - many of their young fans won't care.

4

CS:GO Lotto stopped taking bets for nearly two weeks, a pause it claimed was deliberate, although ended up lasting a lot longer.

3

With the controversy dying down, CS:GO Lotto is now back open for business.

Some do, however. Go into the comments sections of videos posted shortly after they resumed their normal schedules and there is a flood of abuse. It's pretty bad, even by YouTube standards. The politer comments call them "scammers" or "criminals". The less polite comments are a good deal worse.

1

Syndicate is yet to properly address his part in the controversy - or his listing as vice-president of CS:GO Lotto - and has largely kept his head down while TmarTn caught the majority of the flak.

On resuming his regular gaming videos on 9th July, he simply referenced the issue like this:

"I understand making videos on the channel is going to cause a great deal of hate and negativity, but I feel like you guys should be able to vent whatever you want against me in the comments below," Syndicate said, "so the like/dislike rating and comments will all be there.

"Obviously if it is really, really negative spam instead of criticism it'll probably be deleted by a moderator."

That video does have a lower than average like to dislike ratio, but it has now been turned around so likes outnumber dislikes. And by prompting users to make their voices heard in the comments below videos - where only a small number of viewers will look, it allows discussion to be contained.

The other metric for tracking a YouTube channel's popularity is its subscriber numbers. Both TmarTn and TheSyndicateProject's daily numbers have taken a small dip, although for both, it is miniscule amount in terms of each channel's overall subscriber figure.

2

Syndicate, for example, has 9.91m subscribers on his main channel. Over the last couple of weeks he has gone from 9,918,483 to 9,910,604, and numbers appear to be picking up again.

TmarTn's numbers have dipped a little more, and the overall figure is still going down slightly, although only by a few hundred every day. He has gone from 3,217,611 to 3,203,652, although the rate at which it decreases each day now appears to be levelling off.

It's safe to say that neither account's overall total has nose-dived.

Looking at each channel's latest video, the comments sections still aren't clear of accusations against each YouTube star, but the number of posts referencing the controversy is clearly slowing. The like to dislike ratio on each video is also returning to normal.

Valve has spoken out to say that such sites go against Steam's user policy, although its first mode of action will be to "send notices to these sites requesting they cease operations", which seems a pretty lacklustre response. For its part, Twitch has said this now means the streaming of such sites is prohibited.

Meanwhile, both YouTubers appear to be weathering the storm, and it now seems unlikely either will address the matter further and risk stirring up controversy once again.

Eurogamer has asked both YouTubers for comment, and has been in contact with TmarTn's new legal team - which has since decided to stop responding to our requests.

Realistically, we may not hear of this case again unless the US Federal Trade Commission decides to take action - and that may take years. Consider the fact the FTC finally weighed in against Warner Bros. for its 2014 Shadow of Mordor promotion just last week.

That case - where Warner was rapped for not requiring proper disclosure from YouTubers paid to promote the game - resulted in little more than a slapped wrist for the publisher. It's possible there may be more action in the case of TmarTn and Syndicate, considering the facts of this case. But it seems likely those who even still remember this latest YouTube controversy in a few years will think both stars got off lightly.

Comments (70)

Comments for this article are now closed, but please feel free to continue chatting on the forum!