North America’s largest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive league has banned teams from displaying betting site sponsors in-game.
The ESEA, who partner with ESL to provide the Pro League, issued a statement yesterday regarding teams who receive sponsorship from betting sites that deal with cosmetic in-game items.
The statement, posted on the ESEA forums by staff member Brett Sheffield, said: "Over the past few months we have seen an increase of these organizations sponsoring semi-professional or professional teams in an attempt to market their website. To us, this is a direct conflict of interest with the League and the guidelines set forth by Valve."
The guidelines Sheffield spoke of are part of the contract Valve has between official tournament organisers, such as ESEA and ESL.
In them, Valve decrees that ‘professional players, teams, and anyone involved in the production of CS:GO events, should under no circumstances gamble on CS:GO matches, associate with high volume CS:GO gamblers, or deliver information to others that might influence their CS:GO bets.’
Sites such as CSGOLounge and EZSkins require their team members to have a clan tag in their name when competing in an official capacity (eg *EZ-Skins | RattlesnK for the British player Sam Gawn).
Sheffield continued: "Being directly sponsored by a gambling website, no matter the division, is not something we want in ESEA League, as it is detrimental to the integrity of the overall League."
He further clarified that teams can be sponsored by gambling organisations, as well as allowing their logo to appear on branded jerseys at LAN events, however in-game the tag cannot be displayed during matches.
The news has been fairly welcomed by many high-profile members of the CS:GO community, who had previously expressed concerns over the increased penetration of unregulated gambling via sites that take cosmetic items as currency.
However some including analyst Scott "Sir Scoots" Smith are less enthused by the move, which they believe represents the first step in alienating corporate sponsors, especially among the growing gambling sector.
"I have NEVER been against the gambling, just the non-regulated UNDERAGE use of some of the sites," Smith wrote on Twitter. "Banning sponsor adverts hurts growth."
Throughout the statement, and further clarification, no mention was made of relatively regulated gambling companies, such as Unikrn, high street bookmakers the likes of Betway or Bet365, or fantasy eSports ventures AlphaDraft and the recently entered Draft Kings.