YouTubers Trevor “TmarTN” Martin and Thomas “Syndicate” Cassell, who became embroiled in a Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) gambling scam, will not be fined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) despite misleading thousands of viewers.
Last year, these two YouTubers were publishing videos that endorsed gambling site CS:GO Lotto, and paid other YouTube personalities to do the same. What Martin and Cassell didn’t disclose in these videos is that they own the gambling website. The controversy made headlines throughout the year, which led Martin to admitting the truth in a video, but failed to apologize for his wrongdoings. He deleted the video shortly after.
According to Rolling Stone, the two have reached an agreement with FTC, where they must report all of their activity to the commission, as well as disclose connections with endorsers. The commission ruled that the two don’t have to pay any fines, or even admit guilt, unless they go against the agreement. The FTC explained that there is no penalty for Martin and Cassell because they are first offenders. Future infractions, however, could cost more than $40,000 per violation.
The FTC’s Mitchell J. Katz told the Rolling Stone that, “The goal of the FTC isn’t to be a punitive or draconian agency. We are here to educate consumers about new markets.”
CS:GO Lotto allowed participants to bet on gun skins from the game, and took advantage of online gambling loopholes so that minors could join. Both Martin and Cassell’s videos that endorsed the site showed them “winning” skins, but these segments were rigged. Other YouTube personalities were paid up to $55,000 to also deceive viewers.
The FTC may not be punishing the pair, but it has updated its guidelines to clearly state that media influencers must disclose their financial or other affiliations to sites they endorse. The commission also sent out warning letters to 21 media personalities. In a statement, chairman Maureen Ohlahusen said, “Consumers need to know when social media influencers are being paid or have any other material connection to the brands endorsed in their posts.”
Last year, Vale had sent out multiple cease-and-desist letters to gambling sites following the CS:GO Lotto gambling scandal. Both Valve and CS:GO Lotto have faced lawsuits surrounding the issue, which you can read more about here.
[Source: Rolling Stone]
Both Cassell and Martin are escaping punishment with barely a slap on the wrist, which I’m sure doesn’t sit well for the victims of their deception or for those that spent money on the gambling site. The FTC has at least made it clear that if the pair are found guilty of misleading players again, the consequences are grave.