Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Thomas “Syndicate” Cassell, the owners of the Counter-Strike skins gambling site CS:GO Lotto, have reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) following a complaint alleging the owners have misrepresented their ownership of the business in their YouTube videos.
According to the settlement order by the FTC, TmarTn and Syndicate are required to “clearly and conspicuously disclose connections with an endorser or between an endorser and any promoted product or service.” Although there were no financial penalties levied in the settlement, if the two owners violate the order from the FTC, they will face civil penalty of up to $40,654.
A series of videos last June revealed TmarTn and Syndicate had ownership of CS:GO Lotto and that in their videos promoting the website, they failed to disclose that information. Through highly dramatized titles for their YouTube videos, the owners have goaded followers into signing up and playing on CS:GO Lotto under false pretenses by having themselves “win” large payouts through betting.
The FTC report also reveals that CS:GO Lotto had an “influencer program,” which paid other gaming influencers anywhere between $2,500 to $55,000 to advertise the betting site through social media platforms. Influencers in the program were also explicitly prohibited from “saying anything negative about the site.”
The settlement with the FTC has so far been met with backlash that TmarTn and Syndicate were let off too easy. The FTC emphasized its role isn’t to deliver punitive measures, but merely let people know of newly forming markets.
“The goal of the FTC isn’t to be a punitive or draconian agency,” said FTC spokesperson Mitchell J. Katz in a statement to Rolling Stone. “We are here to educate consumers about new markets.”
The FTS’s release also detailed specific guidelines for social media influencers and more clear-cut standards for what should and shouldn’t be done. As an extended measure, the FTC also sent warning letters to 21 social media influencers it contacted earlier this year in regards to their Instagram posts.
Cover photo courtesy of DreamHack