Valve announced that it will be sending notices to third-party websites using Steam for gambling.
The announcement comes after a lawsuit alleged that the company knew and supported the market by providing gambling sites access to accounts on Steam. Litigation is still pending but Valve moved to make its position clear about the matter.
"We'd like to clarify that we have no business relationships with any of these sites," said Valve's Erik Johnson in a statement, adding that the company has never received money from the gambling sites and that Steam doesn't have a system in place to convert in-game items into money.
Johnson specifically pointed out that utlizing the OpenID API Steam uses and making the same web calls as the service's users to facilitate a gambling business is not allowed by the company's API and user agreements. Valve will also pursue the matter depending on how the gambling sites react to its notices.
Before even receiving Valve's notice, some sites have started to take action by initiating cash-outs for their customers. This is one of the better outcomes as it is also entirely possible for a gambling site to just shut down and not give its clients their due. Valve didn't say anyway that the gambling sites have to give their customers their money back.
Twitch also used the opportunity to remind its broadcasters that they are not allowed to stream content that goes against the service or third-party sites' user agreements. As such, streams violating Valve's restrictions are banned on Twitch, like playing on unauthorized private servers or playing pirated games.
According to Johnson, it was in 2011 when a feature was added on Steam to allow users to trade in-game items. The gambling sites work by using Steam accounts to prove ownership of items for trading.
These sites have been around for some time so it's not clear why Valve only decided to take action now. The lawsuit could have prompted the company to pay more attention to the issue, thus pushing it to make the move. After all, even if Valve is able to prove that it is in no way connected to the gambling sites, and thus not receiving money from them, the case filed by a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player still targets the company for allowing the gambling activities to continue this long.
Having labeled third-party sites as officially illegal, Valve is advising Steam users to take into consideration the incident in planning their in-game trade activities.