Monday, December 19, 2016

Stop Appeasing Bullies Like Milo Yiannopoulos

My faith in the current leadership of this country and its institutions is pretty much zero. It's not hard to see why when you see shit like this happening.

I won't summarize that article. I'll just advise you to read it before you continue to read to the next paragraph.

My first criticism will be for the mainstream media and their consistent, infuriating failure to accurately call people like Milo what they are. Bullies. They are NOT "trolls." They're bullies. Milo and the rest of the alt-right filth like him. Milo isn't some mischievous gadfly or edgy rebel fighting off a tyrannical "politically correct" mainstream. He's a vile, cruel, petty sociopath driven purely by the desire to bring human suffering to very real people for no reason other than that he enjoys it.

He rose to prominence in late 2014 by spearheading GamerGate--a group of reactionaries and anti-feminists gamers--in an attempt to drive feminist voices out of gaming, whether they be players, critics, journalists, or developers. Considering how apathetic the gaming community is towards social issues in general, it's no surprise that they were unsuccessful. The majority of gaming celebrities on YouTube ignored GamerGate completely.

When GamerGate fizzled out, Milo decided to take to harassing people he didn't like on Twitter, mostly leftists. Technically, he didn't do the harassing himself, he allowed his fans to do that for him by quote tweeting his targets. Over the summer, he did this star of the Ghostbusters reboot, Leslie Jones, and the resulting barrage of racist and misogynistic harassment she received resulted in Milo being suspended from Twitter permanently. He still has his job at Breitbart, where he regularly writes poorly-written, unfunny, vacuous drivel that would embarrass a 7th Grader. And he goes on "tours" of college campuses regularly as well.

This is insane to me. Why are colleges inviting the man to speak? I hear answers like, "it challenges students by opening them up to new ideas and different perspectives." That's a load of bullshit! He's as bad a writer as he is a human being. Are college deans reading his shit and thinking, "This is an intelligent example of right-wing thought; let's invite him to speak?" If they are, why not invite every troll that's ever shitposted on 4chan? Why not invite the people raging about the evils of feminism on Reddit? The speeches Milo gives and the articles he writes are on the exact same level of intellectual merit as the rest of those guys. His articles have titles like, "Trannies Are Gay," and "Master Baiters: The Leftists keeping America's Race War Alive." Nothing he offers is going to sound like a new perspective to anyone who's ever been on the Internet ever.

When Milo was invited to the University of Milwaukee, he inevitably degraded a transgender student. This is what he does. He degrades and dehumanizes people from marginalized minority groups, and turns them into objects of ridicule. A near textbook example of bullying. Doing exactly what he's done here caused him to get banned from Twitter back in July. And given how publicized his banning was--it opened a brief debate online about how far is too far when it comes to free speech, and should it still be considered free speech if he's inciting harassment on people--there's no way the leaders of UWM couldn't have suspected something like this would happen if he invited him on campus to speak.

The chancellor of UWM, Mark Mone, did the typical damage control routine that people in power tend to do when they fuck up and it causes someone to get hurt. He released an e-mail to the campus where he said he was “disappointed” that Milo “chose to attack a transgender student.” Wow. A guy who campaigned to have the “T” dropped from “LGBT,” and who has a track record of calling trans people, “trannies,” “freaks,” and “mentally ill,” and spread libel against a trans person by the name of Sarah Nyberg, decided to attack a trans person? Who could possibly have guessed that?

 As for Milo stirring up shit on a college campus, it’s not like he hasn’t done this before. He did so several times earlier this year. His entire schtick is to provoke people into an emotional reaction by saying and writing horrible things. He created a charity called, “the Privilege Grant,” which was exclusively for white men, for God’s sake. A grant that, by the way, was discovered to be a scam back in August.

No, Milo has a clear pattern of singling out marginalized people and targeting them for abuse. He specializes in targeting activists for progressive ideas, slandering them, and trying to ruin their lives. He's what a bully looks like all grown-up. Why he still has an entire college campus tour planned out--why campuses are inviting him at all--is beyond me. He has nothing of intellectual merit to offer our students.

Those are just two examples of what to expect from Milo. Not worthy of speaking on any campus. 

I think I know why he keeps getting invited, though. Our establishment is full of cowards. They believe in the balance fallacy. Lest they be accused of "censorship" or "suppressing conservative speech," they feel the need to give a platform to people who would have never have been considered intelligent conservative voices in the past. Can you imagine a ridiculous internet troll being invited to speak on college campuses--places of Higher Fucking Education--even five years ago? I couldn't have. But over the last several years, the media have been inviting increasingly extreme and ridiculous people to speak publicly, whether or not these people had anything of merit to add to national discourse. In 2011, the media decided to give Donald Trump a platform to bullshit about Obama's Birth Certificate. In 2013, Bobby Jindal was giving the Duck Dynasty cast the opportunity to speak on behalf of "conservative principles." What political experience did the Robertsons have? What knowledge did they have on the country's issues? Apparently, these questions weren't important, because the media treated these people as worthy of helping shape national discourse. 

Milo being mainstreamed is a continuation in this decline of standards. With various political clickbait sites (Breitbart is one of the worst of these) spreading wildly inaccurate information over social media in the blink of an eye, mainstream media sources have lowered their standards of accuracy and research so that they can compete. This results in ridiculous buffoons like the Robertsons, like Trump, like Milo, being invited to speak on CNN, FOX News, ABC, you name it. This increases their media exposure, and effectively normalizes them. Because of this, university leaders are more willing to invite these idiots into the lecture halls, instead of more qualified and more experienced individuals. University leaders--especially those higher up--are older and have less knowledge of the internet and social media, and aren't as likely to be aware of who people like Milo actually are.

That being said, Mark Mone has no excuse. Because Milo stirred up enough mainstream attention when he was banned from Twitter for inciting racist harassment of Leslie Jones back in July. At the very least, he could have done some research. But no, he invites Milo to the campus, and wouldn't you know it, he uses this opportunity to incite people against another minority. Only this time, it was a lot worse. At least with Leslie Jones, she was a celebrity with a large fanbase and several friends in the industry who could come to her defense (she also didn't take the abuse lying down, she dished out quite a bit of it herself against her attackers). The trans student that Milo targeted? She had none of those advantages. If you read this student's response to Mone's e-mail, you'll discover that, like many trans people, her life has been hell. Having no friends while growing up is hard, and I can't even imagine how feeling trapped in the wrong body must feel like. Then she is publicly humiliated in the most degrading way imaginable. Milo showed a picture of her from when she was still transitioning in front of a crowded lecture hall. He joked about her "fuckability."

 The worst parts where when he describes her as a predator, "forcing" her way into the girls locker room. "He got into the women's locker room the way liberals always operate, using the government and the courts to weasel their way where they don't belong." This is dehumanizing rhetoric. Milo is making her out to be more of a thing than a human being. Ben Tillman did this to black people. Joseph Goebbels did this to the Jews. And now Milo Yiannopoulos does this to trans people. This type of rhetoric is called demonization. Its consequences? At best, de facto discrimination (an in cases such as North Caroline, de jure discrimination as well). At worst, violence and hate crimes. 24 trans people have been murdered in America in 2016 as of last month

Aside from expressing "disappointment," Mark Mone also said that he will "not stand silently by while a member of our campus community is personally and wrongly attacked!" Mr. Mone, that's exactly what you fucking did! According to this student, you were informed several times about Milo's true nature before his speech, and heeded none of the warnings. Hell, according to her, you called the cops on a student group that organized a protest to cancel Milo's speech. Way to listen to their concerns! Way to show support to your students!

The only response Mark Mone had to this was damage control and to encourage a lame hashtag, #UWMstandstogether. They clearly DO NOT stand together! If they did, Milo would never have been invited in the first place. People will defend Mone, saying that "it's the leasts he could have done." They're right. It LITERALLY is the least he could have fucking done! I suspect Mone's motivations for inviting Milo to speak stem from the recent "Professor Watchlist," going around social media. Since the Bush years at least, a popular right-wing conspiracy theory is that college professors are "indoctrinating" students to become radical Leftists. I remembering seeing this bogeyman for the first time ten years ago, as a Freshman in High School. My thoughts at the time were, "wow, you guys are really fucking desperate to avoid any acknowledgement of the fact that the Iraq War is a fucking disaster and that there are perfectly legitimate reasons to be opposed to it." These were the same people that would push the "Obama is a radical Muslim Marxist who was born in Kenya" line of bullshit during the 2008 election. 

When the Right swept into power after the 2010 midterms, they gained control of all decisions regarding social and budgetary policy in many states, including Wisconsin, where UWM is located. Wisconsin politicians have proposed cuts in state funded grants to universities several times already. When the default response of Milo and his ilk is to cry censorship if they're not invited, UWM runs the risk of being perceived as politically biased--or the more scary sounding, "agenda driven," if you prefer. Since the Right has power in Wisconsin's government currently, UWM leadership is afraid of any bad PR that politicians could use to stir up popular support for funding cuts. As a result, UWM invites Milo to speak, heedless of the risks and consequences. 

There's an insidious element to all of this. The rise of Milo--and the mainstream media's treatment of him as a legitimate voice against "political correctness" rather than as the pathetic, loathsome bully that he is--is Orwellian in nature. Milo is as successful as he is because he casts himself as some sort of courageous voice against "PC Culture," against "feminism," against "social justice warriors." He rose to fame by hopping on the GamerGate bandwagon with a Breitbart article accusing "feminist bullies" of "tearing the gaming industry apart." Calling him out for inciting harassment would get you called a "professional victim," or a "crybully." For the months that GamerGate were relevant, they operated by using 4chan-style trolling raids. People who spoke out on social media were inundated with slurs and death threats. They justified this by claiming that their victims were "popular bullies appropriating gaming culture," or some shit. They cast themselves as the victims, and their targets as the bullies who were shoving diversity and SJW propaganda down their throats. Their aggression was justified--in their own minds--because they were being bullied by the people they targeted, and if their victims fought back it was "proof" that they were the bullies. Classic doublethink. 

GamerGate fizzled out in little over a year, but it's brief prominence and treatment as a legitimate group by the mainstream media enabled another group of Internet reactionaries--the alt-right--the rise in its place. Milo has been a major voice for the alt-right--I'd say he's one of their most recognizable "celebrities," for want of a better word. The alt-right was a dark corner of the internet only a few years the last year and a half, it's become a small but burgeoning cottage industry for young reactionaries. Breitbart, previously just a more belligerent and less factual online version of Fox News, has become the biggest site for the alt-right. 4chan is a big online voice for the alt-right as well, and tends to be much more overtly racist and bigoted than Breitbart. (It should be noted that Milo has used 4chan boards as "evidence" for his various libelous claims against his enemies). There are several YouTube channels dedicated to expressing alt-right ideology, such as Millennial Woes, Black Pigeon Speaks, Naked Ape, Davis Aurini, and Milo himself. Other YouTubers that aren't alt-right, but are sympathetic to the cause (i.e. "anti-feminist, anti-PC, and anti-SJW") include Sargon of Akkad, Chris Ray Gun, Undoomed, and Dave Rubin. All these people rant against "political correctness" and how regular everyday people are threatened by feminism/sjws/immigration/muslims/multiculturalism/insert-boogeyman-here. Does this sound familiar? 

A certain someone ran for President and fucking won by utilizing this kind of rhetoric. It's the kind of rhetoric that spreads fear and paranoia into the hearts and minds of the populace. And this kind of rhetoric has been mainstreamed by the media in frightening ways. Observe Mother Jones referring to alt-right founding father Richard Spencer as "dapper." This New York Magazine article details how the alt-right uses style as a propaganda tool. Milo Yiannopoulos is not an exception to this. Although he certainly does not dress in a manner than anyone would consider, "dapper," he dresses up in a way that makes him look a douchebag. Still, Milo doesn't look like your stereotypical neo-Nazi. He often looks completely ridiculous and impossible to take seriously. In other words, unthreatening. But I think I've proven him to be anything but that.

I think most of the people who don't believe in what Milo says haven't been taking him seriously. A lot of people thought the same about Donald Trump, and he's now President-Elect. I've seen a distressingly low amount of people speak out against these people, too. The people who did got shamed, trolled, and slandered on social media. Several people have had to delete their accounts. They were wrong to do that. Because by doing that, we are appeasing them. We're giving them what they want, which is power over us. Don't let the trolls and the bullies try and wreck your lives because you called them out on their bullshit. Continue to fight on. We need as many people speaking out against the likes of Milo as possible. 

Think back to when your were in Middle School or High School. The worst response you could have made is dropping out due to being bullied. You don't give into bullies, you stand up to them. Right now, a bully has been elected President. Milo and the rest of the alt-right? Those are the group of bullies that try to rule the school by terrorizing everyone else. Mark Mone and the mainstream media? They're the teachers and authority figures that do nothing no matter how many times you tell them you're getting bullied, and no matter how much proof you have of whose doing it to you. What's that make me? I guess that makes me the kid that's tired of seeing bullies get off easy--or worse, seeing authority figures side with them. 

I don't know the student that Milo targeted personally. I don't know any of his victims personally. But I sure as fuck know what bullying is--what predatory behavior is--and I'm tired of seeing nobody speak out against it. If society won't condemn them, I will! I'll do so in more than just this blog post--I'll make this into a YouTube video as well.

I'm not a celebrity. I'm not a leader. I'm just another nobody with an Internet connection and lot to say. If the trolls notice this, if they try to run me off of social media, I'll just use their comments as comedy for my next blog post or video. I'm not going anywhere. I'm just getting started.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Real Problem With Trump's Words

So, by now everyone's heard about the tapes where Trump brags about how he can grab women "by the pu**y". The problem was not the fact that he used vulgar language. If you believe that's the case, you've missed the problem entirely. What he said would be appalling even if he had said, "because of my affluence and my position at the top rung of the social hierarchy, I can disregard the consent of females when I feel around their private regions without the fear of consequence." The problem is the context in which he said those words.

Let's start from the beginning of the tape:

TRUMP: "I did try and fuck her. She was married."

I suppose I should comment on this. It is interesting that he felt the need to mention that she was married. He seems to think it important that he tried to fuck a married woman. This is because he thought he could get away with it. This isn't too bad. Well, it's bad, but it's not shocking. It's honestly pretty mild by the standards of stardom. It's more notable when a famous person doesn't cheat on their spouse. But it's still ammo for the point I'm going to make: that celebrities go by a different set of rules than everyone else.

TRUMP: "I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn't get there. And she was married."

"Oh yeah, she was married. Did I forget to tell you I tried to fuck a married woman? Because the woman was married. I'm rich and famous, so I don't have to respect other people's relationships!"

TRUMP: "Then all of I sudden, I see her. She's now got the big phony tits and everything, she's totally changed her look."

I've seen people, including Trump himself by the way, try to defend this as "locker room talk." And so far, I can believe it. Locker rooms, particularly those located in Middle/High Schools and Colleges, are full of this kind of less than respectful banter about women and their appearances. While it's still unprofessional of a presidential candidate to conduct himself like this, this was said back in 2005, so I won't behoove Trump for these statements. 

BILLY BUSH: "Sheesh, you're girl's hot as shit! In the purple."

TRUMP: "Whoa! Whoa!"

BUSH: "Yes! The Donald has scored! Whoa, my man!"

Okay, this segment right here is basically Locker Room Talk: The Movie: The Cliche. 

TRUMP: "Yeah, that's her. With the gold. I better use some Tic-Tacs just in case I start kissing her."

Tic-Tacs are a license to kiss a girl without permission, apparently. Somehow, I don't think this would work for me if I tried it.

TRUMP: "You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful--I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything."

BUSH: "Whatever you want."

TRUMP: "Grab 'em by the pussy, you can do anything."

I want you to look at the portion of the quote that I've bolded. I didn't bold the pussy grabbing part, because it isn't the important part. The crucial part--the reason why what Trump said is bad--is the part where he says, "I don't even wait." And because he's a star, people let him do it. The assumption is that consent is given automatically if you're rich and famous. 

The tapes continue with Trump and Bush talking about the woman's legs, and then Arianne Zucker comes in, and they start hitting on her and asking her which one of them she would choose for a date. 

ZUCKER: "Would you like a hug, darling?"

TRUMP: "O.K, absolutely. Melania said this was O.K."

BUSH: "How about a little hug for the Bushy?"

"The Bushy?" Are you fucking kidding me right now? 

Billy Bush came out and said that he was "ashamed" of the "lewd talk" he had with Donald Trump. If you ask me, I think the real reason he's ashamed is that people now know he called himself, "the Bushy," unironically. 

Going back to what Trump said, it's absolutely true that people let him get away with stuff like that because he's a "star." He's from the bubble world that so many rich, famous, celebrities live in. A world where the rules of common decency--and sometimes even the law itself--don't apply. 

Think about it. How many times have we heard of a celebrity committing a crime, particularly one involving domestic abuse, only for them to get off incredibly easy for it? In 2009, Chris Brown was given 5 years of probation and 1,400 hours of community service for beating Rihanna. Also in 2009, Charlie Sheen assaulted and threatened to murder his then-wife Brooke Mueller on Christmas morning. He was given 30 days in rehab. Bill Cosby has a rap sheet of sexual assault allegations going back several decades--only recently did police find enough evidence to actually charge him with anything. He is set to go on trial next June. But due to his celebrity status, it's very likely he'll get off with a light sentence.

And that is the heart of the problem. Rich, famous celebrities have been given this artificial power by the media, who for the most part treat them like Gods. They develop this sense of entitlement--that they can just do whatever they want, the law be damned. And the law rarely does punish these people properly--they can afford the best lawyers, they've got celebrity clout and tons of fans to help sway public opinion. Donald Trump's comments in those tapes are a reflection of this underbelly of celebrity culture. He brags about being able to grope women without their consent because they'll "let you do it when you're a star." He assumes that consent is given by default because of that.

And, unfortunately, he is correct that elements of society will allow him--and any other rich celebrity--to do these things because of his stardom. 

Donald Trump is Very Respectful Towards Less Attractive Ladies

And by respectful, I mean he doesn't sexually assault them. And if he accused of it, why the woman MUST be lying, right?

"Take a look. You take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what to think. I don't think so--I don't think so."
See that ladies. You have to be a nine or ten to get groped by the Donald. It's like he thinks being sexually assaulted by him is a privilege.

Rudy Giuliani Doesn't Remember Seeing Hillary in NYC on 9/11

Rudy Giuliani, who has spent the whole presidential campaign with his head shoved firmly up Donald Trump's derrière, has apparently learned how to make wild, absurd accusations from him as well. He accused Hillary Clinton of lying when she said she was in NYC on September 11, 2001. Hillary was in Washington DC at the Capitol that day. (Giuliani is overlooking the fact that DC was also attacked that day.) However, she went to NYC with Chuck Schumer the next day (and she says this in her interview with Chris Cuomo). Here is a picture of her standing next to Rudy Giuliani.

But, hey this was on September 12th, so Rudy technically isn't wrong when he says he didn't remember seeing her on September 11th. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

CSGO Gambling Scandal Update

The big gambling scandal involving many YouTubers surrounding CS:GO skins betting sites has resulted in Valve and Twitch taking strong actions. Valve has issued cease and desist letter's to 23 different gambling sites. One of these sites is called CSGO Wild, and it is a skins betting site that Rain and Banks, co-owners of the mega-popular e-sports team FaZe Clan, were accused of owning about a month ago.

HonorTheCall, the YouTube Channel that broke the Trevor Martin/Tom Syndicate scandal involving CSGO Lotto late last month, did some research on CSGO Wild and found strong evidence that Rain and Banks were running a similar scam. I felt pretty sick while watching these videos...this might actually be even worse than what Martin and Syndicate did.

HonorTheCall discovered that the FaZe Clan owns CSGO Wild when he found a video of a man named Richard Lewis posting skype chat logs with PhantonL0rd, owner of another gambling site called CSGO Shuffle. PhantonL0rd was talking with Joris, the coder who designed his site, about being out of skins and needing the bot to send him smaller, less expensive skins. He mentioned looking into two rival sites, CSGO Lotto, which we already know who the owners of that site are, and CSGO Wild, owned by the "COD Faze Guys."

HonorTheCall decided to dig deeper and discovered that a corporation was registered under International Incorporation Laws in Antigua under the name, "Team Wild." The Terms and Services page used to say that it falls under the laws of the Island of Antigua, but after the CSGO Gambling scandals started to blow up, the page was changed to remove any mention of this. It now says, "play at your own risk, CSGO Wild and its affiliates will not be held liable for your profits or losses when using this site."

This is pretty standard damage control procedures. They're trying to cover their tracks now that they know that these gambling sites are being investigated. Someone named africanjesus on the h3h3productions reddit found several screenshots and links to various FaZe Clan members (Rain, Adapt, Blaziken) gambling on CSGO Wild. Adapt claimed that he was new to the website, but his account is verified, meaning he has to have been the website for quite some time and contacted support. There are also two moments where Adapt and Rain randomly win money on a bet even though they lost. (They tried to pretend that the site had "glitched.") At no point does Adapt say that he's sponsored by CSGO Wild, in the video or in the description.

Another video shows Rain and Blaziken gambling on the site. When Blaziken puts everything from his inventory into the pot, you can see in his trade history that he received a $500 skin from the official owner of CSGO Wild, Gagey. In the video itself, however, Blaziken claimed that Rain gave him the knife. (He also claimed that Rain giving him the knife was the "only reason" he was even making his video in the first place. Uh huh, sure.

There is a video by CSGO Shifter of Banks and Rain getting into an argument and Banks telling Rain not to forget who got him on the CSGO Wild Deal. 

After HonorTheCall dropped his first video, FaZe Rain took to twitter to claim that he only owned FaZe Clan and to ignore the "rumors" about his involvement with CSGO Wild. Right.

HonorTheCall was contacted by a man named Ryan Nolan who claimed to have proof that the FaZe Clan owned CSGO Wild. Ryan designed an early draft for the website. He was promised compensation, but was never paid because his design wasn't chosen to be used. HonorTheCall had a full conversion with Ryan in a series of Twitter DMs. Ryan revealed a skype log of him with a friend going by the Twitter handle SynStone. Stone had contracted him to design the website for the FaZe Clan.

So far, the FaZe Clan has been found promoting gambling to their young audience, deception about their connection with the gambling site they're promoting, and shady damage control and back tracking. Pretty much the same thing Martin and Syndicate were doing. We have an added bonus of them ripping off a designed who worked on their website by refusing to pay him. But this gets even worse.

CSGO Wild is going offline soon thanks to the Valve takedown. Before they tweeted goodbye, they uploaded an essay to Twitlonger claiming that the FaZe Clan own no part of the website and the only owners are Gage and his brother Zach. This contradicts two tweets made by Banks and Rain last October where they offered to pay good money to graphics designers who specialize in web design.

HonorTheCall, in his third video on the subject, found an anonymous person (he wants to keep him anonymous) talking with Banks in a skype log. This person wanted to know what happened to the skins on CSGO Wild. Banks responded that one of his partners didn't want to speak with him even though he was going to include him in the "CSGO Wild Project." The conversation went on for a bit until the anonymous person mentioned that "CSGO Wild is really big." Banks' response? "Yes, I know. I own it."

HonorTheCall found evidence of other FaZe Clan Members' involvement. He showed some Twitter DMs between a designer and FaZe Swan from back in January. The designer wanted to know if he could work on another project now that Banks had left. Swan responded that Rain still owned a good portion of the CSGO Wild Project.

There's a video out there of FaZe Rain pandering to all of his fans. HonorTheCall was kind enough to include a portion of it in his video (it starts at 3:20 in). Rain goes on for a bit about how incredible it is that he has an impact on people and that people want to do what he does. Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. He mentioned that he went to a convention where he met a lot of his fans and that a lot of them were little kids. He explicitly mentioned that they were younger than what most people think of when they think of fans of e-sports YouTubers (14-15 year olds, which is pretty young in and of itself). Rain also went back to his videos where he promoted CSGO Wild and updated the descriptions to include the fact that he was sponsored by the website. He went one step further than Martin and Syndicate did and changed the titles of his videos. (For example: One of his videos entitled, "How to win $30,000 in 5 seconds" was changed to "I GOT SO LUCKY...") Unfortunately for him, the URL IDs of YouTube videos never change no matter how many times you change the title or the description.

HonorTheCall made a fourth video where he breaks the scandal down in chronological order, and also brings some new information. An anonymous Twitter user sent him DMs of his conversation with Banks asking him who owned the twitter handle @CSGOWild. At the time, the twitter handle for CSGO Wild was @CSGO_Wild. Banks admitted that he owned CSGO Wild in this conversation. So far, that's two pieces of documented evidence of Banks admitting to owning the site. (The twitter handle for the site was later changed to @Wild).

In October of 2015, FaZe Rain uploaded a video (starts at 3:11 in) where he claimed to be "good friends" with the people who own CSGO Wild. He also bluntly stated that he was streaming himself gambling on it. Didn't even use a euphemism, he explicitly said he was gambling. And that he loves gambling and does it all the time. And that he uses real money. On his YouTube channel. In front of his audience of underage kids. (*claps slowly*) Never mind the fact that he's also LYING to his audience when he claims he's "friends" with the owners and not one of the owners himself.

If you don't mind, I'm going to take some time to give some of my personal opinions here. I find this story appalling and disgusting, but I don't find it shocking or surprising. It's well known that professional gaming has a shady underworld of betting at this point, just like professional sports does. I've been into online gaming--not regularly, more on-again/off-again--since I was 12. It can be a lot of fun, you can meet a lot of cool people, but you can also meet a lot of unpleasant people. I think the fact that online gaming can be a career for some people is pretty fucking amazing. There are a lot of possibilities in the online world of New Media.

But when I see shady shit like this, I think it does a disservice to the people who make up the online community. You're taking advantage of a largely unregulated environment in order to make easy money, with no regards to morality or human decency. Instead of seeing the online world as a community with whom you can connect with and explore endless possibilities, you see it as a giant money bag to be exploited financially.

As for FaZe Rain, Banks, and Blaziken, I'll say to you what I said to Trevor Martin and Tom Syndicate. When you are in the positions that you are in--you have millions of fans, the majority of whom are underage kids who look up to you and want to emulate you--it's time you acted like responsible adults. You have a moral and social responsibility as role models to set the best examples for the young impressionable minds that follow you. You can't go around promoting unhealthy, ILLEGAL things like underage gambling. And it's disgusting that you lie to your fans and manipulate them for sympathy and money.

You've broken the FTC Guidelines, so I expect that they'll be coming after you. You better think about what your defense will be in court.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Scott Baio Shows His Class And Intellect

Scott Baio endorsed Trump for President a few months ago. Now, normally I don't care about which candidate celebrities endorse, but fans of Donald Trump frequently display behavior that I kind of feel compelled to mock.

There isn't even a "u" in "Clinton," so how would this slur work? The word behind her says, "Country," so you can get it to say something naughty by removing the, "o." Guess what Scott? Family Guy did that same gag ten years ago.

This would have worked better as an attack on her if you removed the "n" from her name. Then it becomes, "clit." It still would have been juvenile, but at least it would have been an actual attack.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Shady, Sordid World of CS:GO Gambling

       Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or CS:GO, is a multiplayer first-person shooter game developed by Valve. It’s the latest release in a franchise of Counter-Strike games that originated as a Half-Life mod back in 1999. The original mod was so successful that Valve bought the intellectual property rights to it and released it as their own game. This was a smart business move considering how explosively successful it would become as a franchise over the next decade and a half.

            CS:GO has been around since 2012. Much like the other Counter-Strike games, you get to join one of two teams: Terrorists, or Counter-Terrorists. You basically just shoot at each other. If everyone on your team dies, you lose; if everyone on your opponents team dies, you win. A big part of the game involves cosmetic items. These items, such as weapon finishes and skins, are acquired by opening virtual crates with keys that are purchased through micro-transactions in the trading system in the Steam Workshop.  A lot of game developers make their money through the revenue generated from these micro-transactions, especially on free-to-play online games. Valve has mastered the use of micro-transactions as a business model because of its use in several of their biggest games (CS:GO, along with Team Fortress 2 and DOTA 2).

            Since the release of the Arms Deal update, many skins have been introduced into the game. These cosmetic items include weapons such as guns and knives. Their monetary value varies based on how rare the skin is. As stated above, you acquire these items by unlocking virtual crates. The keys are purchased with actual money. This update is actually what caused CS:GO to explode in popularity. Prior to the update, it was actually less popular than the original Counter-Strike! Clearly, these skins are popular, and there’s lots of money to be made from trading them.

            So much money, in fact, that websites dedicated to betting on them have popped up all over the internet. The Steam Workshop controls the amount of money you are allowed to spend on these keys. The keys to the rarest items—some sick ass knives—are worth $400. If that seems an excessive price to pay for some virtual loot, you should see what some of these websites outside of Steam will charge you. People have bet thousands of dollars on skins on some of these websites.

            A Bloomberg article by Joshua Brustein and Eben Novy-Williams entitled, “Virtual Weapons are turning Teen Gamers into Serious Gamblers,” covers this troubling phenomenon in depth. There is a reason for the rise in these kinds of gambling websites surrounding gaming: in the last decade, professional video gaming, or esports, has exploded in popularity. Like other professional sports, pro gaming has a shady subculture based around betting on the results of games. CS:GO is one of the most popular games played in E-Sports tournaments, and so there is a ton of money to made in betting on these games. Since Valve introduced skins in CS:GO, an entire underground economy built on gambling has sprung up. People buy the skins for cash and then use the skins to place online bets in professional CS:GO matches. Last year, $2.3 billion worth of skins were wagered on the outcome of e-sports matches. The gambling sites that earn this revenue run on software built by Valve, so they benefit financially from this market. They collect 15 percent of the money whenever CS:GO skins are sold.

            This gambling market is so large that much of it is unregulated. This is a problem, especially if Valve is profiting from it. There have already been incidents of fraud and match fixing at several e-sports tournaments. The most Valve does about this is occasionally ban people who cheat and shut down websites that have been rigged. They don’t discourage people from participating in gambling, and why would they? They take fifteen percent of the revenue made from this underground empire. Last year this empire generated $2.3 billion. Fifteen percent of that is $345 million for Valve. With that kind of money on the line, you’d be surprised at how many people will simply throw morality out the window.

            These third-party gambling sites that are all over the internet? Valve allows players to transfer the skins they won in game. There’s almost no oversight on a lot of these websites. The biggest of these websites is CSGO Lounge. This website provides little information about the owners of the website, whether or not it complies with state and local gambling laws, or whether it has any consumer protections in place. Sports betting is illegal in 46 states in America, but this website does little more than remind players to adhere to the laws. It has been recognized by Valve, so many players feel like it can be trusted. 38 million people visited this website back in March. There are a series of e-sports matches every day; the average match draws $134,000 in skins wagers. Matches between the most popular e-sports teams can draw over a million in skins betting.

            The most troubling aspect of this underground gambling economy is how young many of the participants are. Many of them are teenagers. This isn’t too surprising, considering that this economy runs around CS:GO, which is a hugely popular game among teenage boys. It is still appalling, nonetheless. Underage gambling is illegal, but it is very common on these websites. There’s very little safeguards on any CS:GO gambling website to prevent people under the age of 18 from using them. One website, CSGO Lotto, explicitly allowed kids as young as 13 to make bets.

            CSGO Lotto will be the main focus of this article, because recently it has been enveloped in a major scandal involving two popular YouTube personalities, Tom Syndicate and Trevor Martin. These two guys are well-known Call of Duty gamers with millions of subscribers on YouTube. The scandal started with a news story on the YouTube channel CSGONews. This story was about two members of the popular e-sports team FaZe Clan, Rain and Adapt, faking reactions while making videos of themselves gambling on a CSGO gambling site called CSGO Wild. While this story didn’t blow up, it was noticed by a YouTuber going by the name of HonorTheCall. This guy knew that Tom Syndicate and Trevor Martin were doing similar videos and claiming to make lots of money on gambling sites, so he decided to do some research on them.

            HonorTheCall uncovered a lot of truly reprehensible and scummy shit that Syndicate and Martin were doing. If all of his research checks out, those two guys have committed serious felonies and deserve to spend time in prison. Trevor Martin made several videos—which he’s made private since the scandal broke, of course—where he claims to win large amounts of money in a short amount of time gambling on CSGO Lotto. He also promotes the website in his videos.

 There are two big problems here. The first of which is that his man has a LOT of kids in his fanbase. Like, I’m talking Middle School age kids. Most gaming YouTube channels have a young demographic. And he’s promoting a gambling website and encouraging them to play on it. This alone is fucked up, and makes Martin look very irresponsible at best. But what if I told you that it gets worse? Much worse? Because it does. You see, Martin and Syndicate not only promoted irresponsible behavior in their videos, they also lied to their fans about their involvement with CSGO Lotto. They claimed to have merely found the website, and that after playing a few times and winning big, that they were “considering a sponsorship deal.” In actuality, they own the website.

As it turns out, CSGO Lotto is registered as business in Orlando, where Trevor Martin lives. He is the director of the website. This can be confirmed by looking on a website called It has a list of all the business registrations in Florida, and CSGO Lotto shows up listing Martin as the owner. Tom Syndicate is the Vice President. Looking at corporation wiki provides more confirmation that Martin and Syndicate are the President and VP of CSGO Lotto, respectively. CSGO Lotto also shows up in the files on It has been registered as a for-profit organization. What this means is that these two were gambling on their own website and claiming to win big. Since they own the website, they can potentially control the outcome.

When HonorTheCall made his first video exposing Martin and Syndicate, they went into damage control mode. They decided to cover up their lies and deception with more lies and deception. Martin made a video where he confirmed that he and Syndicate own CSGO Lotto. He claimed that this was “never a secret.” Basic research reveals this as a complete lie. In the first video Martin ever made about CSGO Lotto, he claimed that it was a “new site” that he “just found.”

In Martin’s damage control video, he explains his relationship with CSGO Lotto as thus: “CSGO Lotto is a company. Tmartin Enterprises is a company. CSGO Lotto pays Tmartin Enterprises for promotion. Tmartin Enterprises promotes CSGO Lotto. That’s just how it works.” Tmartin Enterprises is a business that Martin owns. Basically, he is claiming that one of his businesses is paying the other to promote it. He is paying himself to promote himself.

This gets worse. Martin claims that there is not a problem because he discloses the fact that owns CSGO Lotto in the video descriptions of all of his CSGO Lotto videos. Except this is bullshit, because he didn’t add those disclaimers until after HonorTheCall made his first video exposing him and Syndicate on June 27. A simple look on the Internet Wayback Machine will prove this.

As the owner of CSGO Lotto, Martin has immense power over it. Someone with background knowledge of how CSGO Gambling sites work contacted HonorTheCall. He claims that the owner of these sites have access to the database which has a percentage saved. He has the ability to use that percentage to win every game. In other words, there is absolutely nothing preventing him from fixing the games. Most gambling sites don’t allow their owners to play because of this conflict of interest. This is actually unprecedented. Owners of CSGO Gambling sites have never been caught winning money on their own sites before now.

It gets worse. A 15-year-old commented on HonorTheCall’s video, explaining that he lost $300 by gambling on CSGO Lotto. He explained that he gets money from his father each month (about $115) and buys skins for about $50, which he then uses to gamble. The privacy policy on CSGO Lotto forbids kids under the age of thirteen from gambling. Age 13. Read that shit again. This website allows kids as young as THIRTEEN to gamble. And I’m sure this site has the same amount of security against kids lying about their age as your average porn site.

Things would get worse for Martin and Syndicate on July 3, when h3h3productions made a video about their scam. With a big YouTube channel exposing them, the story quickly spread across the internet and began making headlines on gaming news sites such as Kotaku, Eurogamer, and Polygon. Martin has made the incriminating videos private, but several copies have been re-uploaded. YouTube news channel Scarce contacted Martin and asked him about his activities. Naturally, Martin responded by telling more lies. He claimed that he “owns the site now, but didn’t back then.” Apparently, his first CSGO Lotto video was a “feeler video.” He was supposedly testing to see if his audience would enjoy this type of content. That explains why he states that he just “found” this gambling site, right? It also explains why he didn’t disclose the fact that he owned the site until after he was exposed, right? Of course not!

Three people on twitter found Trevor Martin’s Steam Account. It shows that he has been trading skins with several bot accounts. They also posted a screenshot from one of Martin’s now private videos. It shows that he logged into CSGO Wild as a bot account named CSGO Lotto Bot #05. You can get items from these bot accounts if you win the jackpot. Twitter user Cro76, in a DM to HonorTheCall, stated that he’s never seen a gambling site owner logged in as a bot before. He explains that this is shady because he bet on a jackpot on his regular account, and then log in as the bot in order to accept the offer. If has access to the items, he can send them back to himself and still be in the jackpot until it rolls the winner. If he wins he gets other people’s items; if he loses, he still has the items he deposited. Essentially, it’s another way of fixing the game. It is also noteworthy (this was discovered by someone on the h3h3productions subreddit) that if you pause the video at 6:52, you’ll see that two other sites are linked to CSGO Lotto at the bottom of the page ( and You’ll also notice that CSGO Lotto Bot #05 has had past trades with three OPSKINS Bots (#152, #312, and #241).

Short version of this whole thing: Trevor Martin is in a positon where he can’t lose. He has full access to the database of his website, and he can log in as bots in order to send skins to himself. He, along with Tom Syndicate, have been running a massive scam.

They have also broken the law. FTC Guidelines state that you must disclose that you are sponsored by a website if you are sponsored. After it was revealed that Martin and Syndicate owned this website, some of their dumber fans defended them, saying that they weren’t breaking FTC guidelines. The reasoning is that they aren’t being sponsored by the website if they own it. Going back to the videos made by HonorTheCall, it’s clear that they were getting sponsored by this website. As Trevor Martin said, “CSGO Lotto pays TmarTn Enterprises for promotion. TmarTn Enterprises promotes CSGO Lotto.” As Philip DeFranco says, “It goes in a circle.” I’m pretty sure that if you own a gambling website and claim that you don’t in order to gamble on that website, you’ve committed a felony. It is clear that they have broken FTC guidelines around effective disclosures in digital advertising. Disclosures are required to be clear and conspicuous. Suffice to say, that is not the case here.

Philip DeFranco explains in his video about the scandal that websites like CSGO Lotto make their money by taking 8% of the whole pot. As I’ve written earlier, these websites pull in an average of $134,000 per match, and there are tens of thousands of matches per month. 8% of $134,000 is $10,720. CSGO Lotto is undoubtedly generated tons of money even if the games aren’t rigged, and there’s evidence to suggest that the games are being rigged and that the site is a scam.

A YouTuber name Cole Warner uploaded a video a few months ago (before the scandal broke out) about how he sent an offer for a bayonet tiger tooth into the pot but it never went in. He sent the offer off the website. His items were held by Bot #115. After Warner sent a complaint to the sites admin, he was given an automated response asking for his Steam ID, his trade URL, and his missing items. Warner provided the information. He was treated with another automated response asking for his confirmation number. The problem is that Warner was never provided with one. The message in the trade just said, “Automated Trade from CSGO Lotto: Happy Trading.”  He explained this in a post and was treated to another automated message stating that they can’t help him unless he provides the confirmation number. Warner created a new support ticket and was given a warning not to create duplicate tickets or he would get banned, as well as more “please provide your confirmation number” shit.

If you look at Mr. Warner’s screenshot of the support center, you’ll see that he opened no less than five tickets explaining his problems. He offered plenty of screenshots and evidence that he wasn’t getting what he bet on. The site’s support offered no help and all of the tickets were closed without anything being resolved. In one of the tickets, he explained that he went to Bot #115’s inventory to find his item and that the bot never gave him his confirmation number. He also mentions that the skin was $400 and that he doesn’t know if he won or lost the match because he wasn’t able to put it into the pot. The ticket was closed without any response from the support team. Another one of his tickets, in which he asks why they need a confirmation code since the bot never gave him one, was closed only four minutes after it was created.

Warner showed his user history page on CSGO Lotto where it lists the matches he’s won and the matches he’s lost. He can confirm that his $400 bet never made it into the pot. Warner also claims that a similar thing happened to his friend. This alone isn’t proof that the site is a scam, but it certainly shows that something shady is definitely going on. He is not alone with stories like this. If you go on the Steam Community group for this website, you’ll find multiple threads from people claiming similar things. That the bots never gave them confirmation codes. That they never got their skins sent back to them when they couldn’t get into the pot. That they never received their winnings.

Is this enough evidence to prove that Martin and Syndicate were rigging the games? I can’t say for certain. But it seems very likely. I’ve already explained that they’ve clearly broken the law by promoting a for-profit gambling website and not disclosing the fact that they own it. I want to talk about what’s even more despicable about all of this: the fact that these two have manipulated and exploited their young, impressionable fan base for financial gain.

The lies and manipulation didn’t end when their scam was exposed; they continued to do so while attempting damage control. Tom Syndicate took to twitter to spew vapid platitudes about being “humbled” by this experience and promising, “transparency from here on out.” Uh-huh. Trevor Martin uploaded a truly pathetic and disingenuous “apology” video on July 6. It starts with a clip of him hugging his dog and bemoaning that he has no idea how to record the video. Right afterwards, he starts by telling the audience that he loves them and that they mean the world to him. Classic emotional manipulation. He then explains that his connection to CSGO Lotto has been a matter of public record since December 2015 and that owes an apology to audience for feeling that it wasn’t made clear enough. That’s not apologizing for your actions, that’s pleading with your audience that “it’s not what it looks like!”

Immediately afterwards, he tells another lie, and this was what made it clear to me that he feels no remorse for his actions and is a complete scumbag. He says that he doesn’t condone minors under age 18 to use CSGO Lotto, and that this “is and always has been” a clearly stated policy on the sign-up and the Terms of Service. He provides screenshots as “proof.” This is directly contradicted by the screenshots provided in the expose video by h3h3productions, where the website clearly forbade only kids under the age of 13. This screenshot is from the website privacy policy page. Martin tries to justify this by claiming that it only states that he and Syndicate will not knowingly record personal information of kids under age 13. Why would it be necessary to state this if the site didn’t allow anyone under the age of 18 to use it? The sign up page also only asks you to check a box labeled, “I agree to the Terms of Service and am of 18 years of age” before submitting your entry form. This is not going to prevent anyone under the age of 18 from using the site; kids are just going to lie about their age. Especially since you directed them to this site with your multiple “GET LOTS OF CASH MONEY $$$ REALLY FAST” gambling videos!

Martin finishes the apology video by claiming that he “believes” that every game offered on CSGO Lotto was legit followed by more showering his fans with praise and buttering them up in order to drum up sympathy. His assurances that the games were legit ring hollow given the fact there is documented evidence of him logging in as a bot, giving him to ability to trade skins to himself. The video received over 60,000 dislikes and numerous negative comments. Martin continuously deleted the negative comments for several hours before deleting the video entirely, likely realizing that his attempt at damage control backfired. There are several re uploads on YouTube, however.

HonorTheCall made a response video to Trevor Martin, splicing footage from the apology with a clip from a previous video from Martin where he explains that YouTube isn’t where he gets the majority of his income anymore. That’s the first true thing that Martin has said, as it turns out that CSGO Lotto generates between $100k and $250k per month, depending on how active the site is. HonorTheCall also debunks Martin’s claim that people trying to create an account on CSGO Lotto must agree to be 18 or older. He shows a screenshot of a page that states that CSGO Lotto is not affiliated with Steam, but it will allow you to use your Steam account to play on it. If you don’t have one, the page offers a link to create a Steam account. This takes the user to Valve’s website, where you have to click a box confirming that you agree to the terms of service and that you are 13 years of age or older. There’s nothing stopping kids under age 13 from lying about their age to create Steam accounts either. If they can lie about their age on the Steam account confirmation they can lie about it when they return to the CSGO confirmation page.

Martin and Syndicate have lots of kids in their fan base. They know it. Most YouTube Gaming channels have young demographics and these two are no exception. There are several pictures of them going to conventions where fans can meet them, get autographs, et cetera. Some of the fans in those pictures are clearly Middle School age kids. Kids that age are very impressionable and have no idea how the world works. They don’t know how to recognize a scam. And they tend to be very trusting and very loyal to their favorite YouTube stars. As someone’s who has been on YouTube for eight years—and has regularly watched YouTube content for ten years—I can confirm this. You can see it in the comments section of any big YouTube channel, especially the gaming channels. These kids adore and idolize their favorite YouTubers. They want to be like them.

Trevor Martin and Tom Syndicate are well aware of these facts. They know about the impressionable kids that trust them. And they have taken advantage of it; exploited it. They have lied to them, deceived them, and conned them. They have promoted gambling websites to them; sites that they secretly owned and controlled. They’ve used them in order to scam money from them. They fed these kids these videos on how they can “MAKE $13,000 in five minutes!” What kid wouldn’t get excited and try that out for themselves? These kids will end up losing over and over on this site, and they’ll keep coming back because gambling is very addicting. It’s especially bad if kids developing addictive habits like this; it’s much harder for them to kick such habits because their brains have not fully developed yet.

What Martin and Syndicate have done is illegal. Online gambling is against the law in Florida, but sites like CSGO Lotto are allowed to exist due to a loophole. The laws were made before things like micro-transactions and trading skins and virtual goods inside a video game became a thing. The laws haven’t been updated to reflect the rise of this phenomenon, so it technically doesn’t qualify as gambling under the law as currently written. This does not make it right. It’s a disgusting loophole that Martin and Syndicate have abused in order to avoid legal punishment. Fortunately for us, they have broken another law; the one barring you from promoting a for-profit enterprise without disclosing the fact that you own it.

This story has since blown up, making headlines outside of YouTube and on mainstream media websites all over the globe. More information has come out about CSGO Lotto. The latest video by HonorTheCall reveals that CSGO Lotto (and other gambling websites) actually make a minimum of $1 million per month, rather than the previously estimated $100-250k. Trevor Martin, Tom Syndicate, CSGO Lotto, and Valve are also being sued. The lawsuit was brought up by anonymous mother on behalf of her underage son. Any US Citizen can join this lawsuit if they have lost money on any CSGO gambling site. I’m glad to see this happening. People who exploit kids and introduce them to gambling deserve the be punished the full extent of the law. Let’s hope the FTC tears them apart as well. This isn’t the first time Tom Syndicate has been in trouble with them for failing to disclose information.

I’m also glad that this incident has brought much public attention to the issue of these CSGO Gambling sites and their often underage users. Trevor Martin and Tom Syndicate are just the tip of the iceberg. This isn’t the first scandal involving popular YouTubers/Twitch streamers and a CSGO Gambling site.

 A month ago, a scandal involving a CSGO streamer named m0e and a gambling site called CSGO Diamonds erupted. M0e asked for predetermined rolls so that he knew what would happen when he went to gamble. A YouTuber named Thooorin broke the scandal down. M0e had $26k on the site that he tried to withdraw but was told the couldn’t. He gave them 24 hours to give him his money or he would “expose” them. M0e accused the site owner of fraud and sending him the rolls before it happened and that the site was shady and would not appear on any of his streams. M0e showed screenshots of his Skype log with the CSGO Diamonds owner on his Twitter.

CSGO Diamonds responded with a TwitLonger post stating that the contacted m0e looking to sponsor him, agreeing to give him twenty percent of all profits made the first month he streamed for them, and ten percent of all profits made in the following months. M0e had told them that he would be streaming for 110-130 hours a month. After six weeks, he began streaming less. M0e claimed that he was dealing with problems in his personal life after CSGO Diamonds asked him why he was spending less time streaming. M0e said that they could renogitate if they felt he hadn’t shaped up by the end of May. His streams continued to get less frequent. When CSGO Diamonds approached him on June 1, telling him that they were going to renegotiate, m0e made threats to expose them for wrongdoing. CSGO Diamonds claimed that m0e was involved in that himself.

CSGO Diamonds goes on to confirm that they did indeed offer to tell m0e what the rolls were going to be, in order to get him to stream more. They claimed that this was a mistake that they wouldn’t repeat with any other sponsor, and that it happened in both directions. They would offer him information on the rolls, and he would ask them for the information. M0e’s threatening to expose them resulting in them ending their sponsorship deal with him and giving him a severance payment. They claim that after he left, he began spreading false information about them on Twitter. CSGO Diamonds posted a screenshot of their own skype log with m0e, showing their side of the story.

Long story short: m0e agreed to a deal where he gets a revenue share of the profits made by CSGO Diamonds. In exchange, he will stream himself gambling on the site for 110-130 hours per month. He’s promoting the site in exchange for a percentage of the profits. The site thinks that seeing him winning on stream a lot will make them look good, so they offer to give him information on the rolls so that he’d win more often. M0e initially says he doesn’t want to do it that way. Most CSGO gambling sites will automatically refill a sponsored streamer’s account when they get low so they can continue gambling. That’s the way m0e wanted to do it at first, but CSGO Diamonds convinced him to do it their way. M0e then started asking the site for the roll information for him to win easily to fill his account again when he gets low. M0e wasn’t playing against other people during his streams, he was playing against the site itself. Because of his agreement with them, he was able to win easily, and he was presenting it as a regular match on his streams.

The deal was shady on the part of both parties. It also gave m0e’s audience a false perception of what gambling on CSGO Diamonds is like. According to the skype log, m0e was getting over $50k a month from CSGO Diamonds to fake reactions in his streams. He was also getting $150k a month from gambling on another site called CSGODouble. After CSGO paid him his severance package after the sponsorship ended, m0e demanded he get $10k through the site affiliates, despite that never being part of the deal. He basically threatened to blackmail the site because they wouldn’t give him what he wanted after he didn’t hold up his end of the deal. They gave him a $75k severance package so that he wouldn’t blackmail them, but he blackmailed them anyway.

This is not the first time m0e has done something shady. M0e was banned from e-sports team ESEA for cheating back in 2014. He had used trigger bots to give him an edge in several professional CS:GO matches. It’s unsurprising that someone like this would turn to shady gambling deals. These sites all seem to be attracting some really scummy guys.

Back to the scandal with Trevor Martin and Tom Syndicate, this is not the first time the FTC has punished YouTubers for accepting paid advertisements without disclosing their sponsors. The multi-channel network Machinima paid several YouTubers—Syndicate was among them—up to $30,000 to say positive things about the X-Box One back in 2013. This was done as a part of a secret agreement with Microsoft—the creators of the X-Box. There is also evidence that Trevor Martin was paid by Activision to promote Call of Duty. A YouTuber named Eight Thoughts made several videos on the subject. Martin has been uploading the trailers to Call of Duty games for years, and the videos each have hundreds of thousands of views. Since these trailers are the intellectual property of Activision, someone who just uploaded them onto their own YouTube channel would receive copyright strikes almost immediately. There’s no way Martin could get away with this if he wasn’t in some kind of financial partnership with Activision.

What Syndicate and Martin have done recently makes that ethical lapse seem tame. It’s not just the fact that they promoted a for-profit website and failed to disclose the fact that they owned it. It’s not just that they scammed their underage fans out of their money. Even if they hadn’t been lying, they’d still be scummy simply for promoting an addicting—and illegal—habit like online gambling to kids.

They aren’t the only popular e-sports YouTubers to do so. Two members of the mega-popular FaZe Clan, Nordan “Rain” Shat and Ricky Banks, were accused of owning a CSGO gambling site called CSGO Wild as the CSGO Lotto drama was unfolding. There isn’t enough evidence at the moment for me to outright accuse them of doing the same scam that Martin and Syndicate did with CSGO Lotto. Scarce did some research and while he couldn’t find evidence that Rain and Banks owned CSGO Wild, he did find out that Rain was sponsored by the website. Rain has made several videos about how he won tons of money on CSGO Wild, very similar to the ones that Martin and Syndicate made about CSGO Lotto. The video descriptions do say that the video was sponsored by CSGO Wild. He wins $30,000 from 10 games in a row in one of his videos, which is an extremely suspicious stroke of good luck.

Even if they don’t own the site, I’m still going to condemn them for what they’re doing. And that thing is, promoting a gambling website to their underage audience and making online gambling seem like it’s cool. It is illegal in 46 states and uncool in all 50 of them. Like Martin and Syndicate, Rain and Banks have a lot of young kids—twelve, thirteen, fourteen years old; middle school aged—in their fan base. These kids look up to them and idolize them. And in my eyes, that means they have a responsibility to set good examples to them. They shouldn’t be encouraging gambling. But because they and a lot of big gaming YouTubers are, underage gambling is becoming a problem because of the multitude of skins betting sites out there.

Most of these betting sites are unregulated…it’s a virtual wild west. There is a website called SkinXChange where gamers can sell and buy CS:GO skins—and skins from any game running on Valve software—for real money. The owner of that site has bluntly stated that the underage gambling problem is huge. He’s called many parents whose children have used their credit cards to buy the skins on his site and then bet them on other sites. It’s not uncommon for them to rack up thousands of dollars only to lose it all on another gambling site.

Rahul Sood, CEO of a e-sports betting site called Unikrn, warned against streamers advertising for gambling sites back in April. He mentioned hearing his 13-year-old son talk with his friends about skin trading—and since this man has a properly functioning moral compass, he believes that this is wrong. Sood actually argues for the legalization of sports betting so that it can be regulated properly, because at the moment he believes that it’s an environment where sites can prey upon young people. It seems he predicted the CSGO Lotto Scandal three months in advance.

The growth of skins gambling online has been insane in just the last year alone. Chris Grove, consultant at Eilers and Krejcik Gaming, has estimated that the market for skin betting will be $5 billion this year—more than double last year’s $2.3 billion. The number of people betting on e-sports is also growing at a crazy rate. Last year, it was estimated that 2.3 million people bet on e-sports games, according to n Eilers Research Report. That firm projects the number growing to at least 17.4 million by 2020 by a conservative estimate. The firm also projects that $12.7 billion will be wagered on video games by that year.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this. An underground gambling market based around video games and skins trading is a recent phenomena, less than a decade old. That it’s growing so fast is insane. That it’s almost completely unregulated is alarming. The industry is so young that the gambling laws have yet to be updated to reflect its rapid rise. But the size and scope of this shady industry—and the amount of money to be made from it—would make even the old Las Vegas mob jealous.     

            All of these gambling sites are usable with Steam accounts and use software developed by Valve. Since the CSGO Lotto Scandal blew up, the issue of underage gambling on skins websites has been brought up by mainstream media sources, such as the BBC. And while the biggest villains of this story are the slimeballs who took advantage of their young, naïve fan base for easy money, Valve is not innocent in all of this. They didn’t just create Counter Strike: Global Offensive; they created the means to which the shady skins gambling underworld was possible.

            (Much of the information in the next few paragraphs comes from an excellent op-ed in Polygon by Philip Kollar)

Valve made it very easy for you to connect your Steam account to various third-party websites. Player can bet on professional CS:GO matches—much like people will bet on NFL games. Remember the FIFA scandal from last year? It’s a lot like that. Some sites will simplify the skin betting into coin flips or slot machines against other players—much like a typical online gambling site. People put real money into getting skins, bet with them, and then sell them on the Steam market place. CS:GO gambling sites can work around the law by claiming that people aren’t betting real money, they’re betting skins, ignoring how people acquire those skins. When you’re resorting to technicalities and legal loopholes, it’s safe to say that your website is shady as fuck.

            A month ago, a player filed a lawsuit against Valve, claiming that he lost money to CS:GO gambling as a minor. Last year, Reddit’s CS:GO community did a poll in which 42% of respondents said that they were under the age of 18, and 63% said they were under 21. CS:GO isn’t exactly geared towards kids (it’s Rated M for Mature), but when has that ever stopped kids from playing it? I played the original Half-Life when I was ten and that game is also Rated M. CS:GO, as well as the various Call of Duty games are hugely popular among the 12-18 year old male demographic. Log into pretty much any game and listen to a few voices—a lot of them are not adult voices.

            The National Council on Problem Gambling reported that 5% of youth aged 12-17 having a gambling addiction, while another 10-14 percent at risk of developing one. With CS:GO—and more importantly, the YouTubers and Twitch Streamers who play it—being so popular among that demographic, and with the huge gambling subculture surrounding the game, there’s plenty of reasons to be concerned.

            Where is Valve itself at fault? You know the saying that all it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing? That’s Valve. They’ve known about all of this for years—there’s no way they possibly couldn’t have—and they’ve chosen to look the other way. These sites all use Valve software, so Valve profits from this gambling empire as well. Valve hasn’t done much more than make some security changes to Steam to prevent scamming through gambling sites.

            CS:GO isn’t the only Valve game with a gambling problem. Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2 have similar loot systems and gambling sites of their own. Those games are both Rate T for Teen, so there’s no shortage of underage players.

            Jasper Ward, an attorney representing the young man who filed a lawsuit against Valve last month, has accused Valve of deliberately allowing this skins trading market to flourish. They are accused of profiting from this unregulated online gambling economy. “Parents don’t know that this is going on and can’t talk to their kids about it because the gambling chips are called ‘Skins’ and it seems like just another in-game purchase.”

            Ward contacted Valve for a chance to tell their side of the story, but they did not respond to the lawsuit. The Polygon journalist also tried to contact Valve, and he got no response as well. It wasn’t until the Trevor Martin and Tom Syndicate scandal blew up that Valve decided to take action. (Possibly because those two gave the lawsuit against Valve a ton of new ammo.) 

            Valve has started cracking down on these gambling sites in the wake of the scandal, and this is good. They’ve been sending out cease and desist notices. Unfortunately, the fact they waited until a massive scandal threatened their bottom line reflects poorly on their character. If they actually cared about the fact that their underage customers were being scammed and exploited by scummy people, they would’ve shut down these third-party gambling sites a long time ago. But they didn’t.

            Twitch is also banning gambling broadcasts. Again, a good start, but long overdue. This kind of shit should never have been allowed in the first place.

            Fixing this problem goes beyond just shutting down these sites and prohibiting gaming YouTubers and streamers from promoting them. What we need to do is convince the Twitch community, the gaming community, the YouTube community—remind them that they all have a young, impressionable fan base. Much like famous sports stars from previous generations, the current generation of kids looks up to these online celebrities. When so many kids look up to you, you need to be on your best behavior and set the best example for them.

            I’m not saying you have to make videos feeding the homeless or promoting research into curing cancer. What you should do is just remind your audience to do basic acts of human decency—be a good sport when gaming online, don’t call each other faggots or say that you fucked someone else’s mom. Don’t promote things like online gambling or skins trading websites.

            Remember that your fans are people, not bags of money with legs. If I had the kind of fan base that these gaming stars have and they were out gambling on websites because of a video I made, I’d be devastated.

            The most disgusting thing about what Trevor Martin and Tom Syndicate did is how little remorse they had over it. Trevor Martin made that pathetic apology video, deleted it after getting bombarded with hate, and then went back to his regular videos after a few days with no comment. Tom Syndicate just tweeted that the experience was humbling, and then went back to uploading his regular videos. No apology at all from him. Syndicate even joked about the scandal in a video where he played, saying that it’s not a sponsored video and that he doesn’t own

            These two have no idea how lucky they are to be in their position. They get lots of money to stream video games and have tons of adoring young fans. They’re my age—actually, they’re a few years younger than me—and they don’t have to grind out several service industry jobs to pay their rent. They have nicer houses than even the most affluent members of my family. Many people would kill to have their jobs.

            Instead, they decided that it’s not enough. No, they need MOAR MONIE$! So they set a up a gambling site and scam their fans. It’s good that they’re in a ton of legal shit right now because of this, and it’s disgusting that YouTube hasn’t shut down their channels. But they’re big, popular channels and they make YouTube and Google a lot of money. And we all know that money is what really matters in the world.

            Fuck these people.