The introduction of skins to games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) allowed players to customize the look of the guns or characters in their loadouts. These items have become a currency of sorts to players and Steam users, with many picking up the game hoping to get an exclusive skin or two to sell on Steam’s market places. However, with the growing popularity of these games, scandals involving the cosmetic items have been popping up left right and center.

Back in 2013, the CS:GO community was introduced to the idea of gambling with skins, this system allowed users to tune into matches, and bet on the outcome of these matches with cosmetic items the held both virtual and real-world value. Sites that were built on these systems, however, were in a legal gray area and were largely unregulated, meaning many of the users could have potentially been minors.

Then in July of 2016, the developers of Counter Strike and creators of Steam, Valve threatened legal action against betting sites forcing many of them to shut down. But the market for skins was still lucrative and case-opening sites remained. These sites would allow users to input some money in the hopes that they would get better returns than the ones offered by Valve.

In a report from renowned esports reporter Richard Lewis, he claims that these sites do not actually have the amazing rates that they boast of in their advertisements. A former coder for several of these sites has come forward, saying that he could not deal with their “inherently dishonest and deceptive” business tactics.  

The coder, who asked to stay anonymous, said that on many of these sites, the chances of winning big can actually be set manually. This means that a user’s inning can be predetermined by ‘the house’. In some cases, sites can activate a ‘Rape mode’ which preemptively gives the two cheapest skins from any case every time.

“On the front of the site it says you can win a knife, or an expensive item,” the source said. “Meanwhile the site has it set to zero so you literally can’t. Every site I’ve worked on does it this way and requests these features.”

The feed describing the recent winnings of users is also a facade, by ‘proving’ that a given site gives away more highly valued skin than its competitors, sites hope that they would be able to entice users to stay and commit more money. “One site I worked on even had it coded so it manually removed all the lower items from the recent wins, so it appeared that it was only giving out premium items,” the source said.

Content creators who sponsor and promote these sites on Youtube are also allegedly in on the act. They are given favorable winrates based on their status and what the administrators of the sites deem appropriate, this is termed the “soak system”. Essentially, these promoters can set their own premium skin win percentages and the values of the skins won. The site itself could also manually set a creator up for wins in a given time frame to scam their own sponsor.

The sites also use “item stocking”, a tactic that is used to delay users from getting their winnings. Payouts that take 30 days or more are typically scams, while time frames between a week to a month are more legitimate. “If they claim they can’t find it in their history or the item has disappeared they are lying,” the same source said.

Unsurprisingly, the “Provably Fair” algorithm used to advertise these sites are allegedly skewed in favor of sponsors and site owners. While weights and chances for different spin are evaluated for fairness, the site itself can manually input those same weights and erase those values so that they could not be tracked and traced over time. The system allegedly “cleans itself of records” after about two weeks, making regulation from external sources almost impossible.

Since the original article has been written, a major case-opening site, has shuttered its doors citing trade bans from Valve. There are however many more of these sites still active.

Source and Pictures: The Richard Lewis Report