The indigenous American tribe Quinalt Nation filed a lawsuit against Valve, stating that the game developer actively encouraged gambling via its popular game “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” according to PCGamesN.
Quinalt Nation, located in Washington state, and the owner and operator of the Quinault Beach Resort & Casino, stated that the experience of obtaining skins in “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (“CS:GO”) mimics the feel of an online slot machine and the value of the skins in the game range wildly, from virtually no value to very valuable skins which can then be sold for real world US dollars.
Skins can be obtained by purchasing loot boxes in the game, which contain randomized in-game items— which is where the gambling element comes in.
“Valve is well aware of the skins gambling that goes on,” the lawsuit stated. “[Valve] is well aware that skins have real world cash value, […] and actively encourages and facilitates skins gambling.”
The Quinalt Nation argues that Valve has “profited handsomely for years from illegal online gambling” since the skins in “CS:GO” are valuable under Washington state’s guidelines, and Valve should thus stop offering loot crates until it is determined if the company needs to obtain a gambling license.
In addition, the lawsuit filed states that the third-party websites used to trade and sell “CS:GO” skins (which Valve allowed and even assisted in some cases, according to the suit) do not operate within the realm of Washington state’s gambling laws that the Quinalt Nation must abide by.
Valve shut down trading on Steam in the Netherlands last summer after the Dutch government issued an ultimatum in response to concerns that loot boxes were possibly violating the country’s gambling laws. Loot boxes contain random in-game video game items that vary widely in value, and its randomized contents are what some believe mimic the same thrill of gambling: The real world cost of the loot boxes translate the received reward to absolute chance: The chance of winning big or winning something useless.
Valve later removed the ability to open loot boxes in “CS:GO” to resolve the issue in the Netherlands and in Belgium.
Loot boxes and gambling concerns are ramping up in the US as well. This lawsuit from the Quinalt Nation is certainly not the first. Last month, “Fortnite” maker Epic Games was the target of a lawsuit stating that the loot boxes in the game are “predatory.” Epic Games, though, got rid of blind loot box purchases in January, eliminating the “gambling” aspect by revealing ahead of time what contents are inside the game’s loot boxes, now called “X-Ray Llamas.”
With the Federal Trade Commission’s public workshop on issues related to loot boxes coming this summer, the issue is sure to get even more attention in the coming months.