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Overzealous Washington State Gambling Regulators Target Popular Video Game Developer: New at Reason

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 8:16
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Washington state gambling regulators are going after popular video game Valve for, in essence, having software that’s too user-friendly.

J.D. Tuccille writes:

As in many American states, gambling is legal in Washington if overseen by politicians’ friends and if the house—the government—gets its cut. The state hosts tribal casinos, raffles, card rooms, bingo, fund-raising casino nights, amusement games, and a state lottery. But state residents can’t legally wager online because “Internet gambling has never been authorized and is illegal in Washington State,” according to the Washington State Gambling Commission.

Strictly speaking, regulators aren’t accusing Valve of actually operating games of chance. They’re not even accused of offering a venue for gaming. Instead, the company is allegedly “guilty,” if that’s the right word, of letting players exchange in-game items—known as “skins”—with one another. This is somehow a violation because players and third-party companies working independently of Valve found a way of using those skins as markers in betting on other platforms that have nothing to do with Valve.

Basically, players discovered they could use the neato stuff they acquired in the game as poker chips.

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