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.



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