"In 2011, we added a feature to Steam that enabled users to trade in-game items as a way to make it easier for people to get the items they wanted in games featuring in-game economies," wrote Valve's Erik Johnson. "Since then a number of gambling sites started leveraging the Steam trading system, and there’s been some false assumptions about our involvement with these sites."
Johnson clarified that Valve does not affiliate with any such site, nor has the company received a cut of revenue from their earnings. Furthermore, Steam does not offer any way to convert in-game items into real money.
Gambling sites that use Steam make money by breaking Steam user agreements and certain development APIs (application programming interfaces). "First, they are using the OpenID API as a way for users to prove ownership of their Steam accounts and items. Any other information they obtain about a user's Steam account is either manually disclosed by the user or obtained from the user’s Steam Community profile (when the user has chosen to make their profile public). Second, they create automated Steam accounts that make the same web calls as individual Steam users."
When it catches a gambling business exploiting Steam and its users, Valve will launch a two-pronged initiative. First, it will send cease-and-desist notices. If that doesn't work, it will "pursue the matter as necessary."
"Users should probably consider this information as they manage their in-game item inventory and trade activity."
Valve's strong stance against gambling sites comes in the wake of a gambling controversy surrounding CSGO Lotto. Counter-Strike: GO allows players to use Steam trading to buy and sell in-game items, but CSGO Lotto and other such services took that a step further by letting users bid real money in exchange for weapon skins. A lawsuit against CSGO Lotto alleged that Valve was "complicit in creating, sustaining and facilitating [a] market" where players, even those younger than legal age, could gamble.
David Craddock posted a new article, Valve will take legal action against gambling sites that use Steam
Such a shit situation. On one hand I like it when the big players (devs/pubs) take on these shady third party sites. On the other it seems above, and beyond what they should even be responsible for. The CS Lotto 3rd party gambling looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. You would think with a few phone calls and the Government would be all over it like headcrabs on heads.