Two Youtubers, Thomas 'ProSyndicate' Cassell and Trevor 'TmarTn' Martin, have been promoting a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling site for the past year without disclosing the fact that they own it.
CS:GO Lotto is a site where you can take your Counter-Strike weapon skins and place them in a pot with other players' and, on the roll of a dice, potentially win everything in the pot. While CS:GO Lotto doesn't let you sell those skins for real or virtual money, that's something you are able to do easily elsewhere on the internet.
For the past six months, TmarTn has been regularly promoting CS:GO Lotto, uploading videos where he talks about the thrill of betting on the site, videos of him betting, and videos of him winning. ProSyndicate has done the same. Yet, the pair don't appear to have disclosed at the time the fact that they actually own the site and profit from it. Something that could potentially fall foul of the Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
In May last year the Federal Trade Commission laid out guidelines for bloggers and YouTubers on how to handle promotion in their videos. The organisation was clear that if a blogger receives money from a company it promotes without disclosing that relationship then it has broken the law.
Youtuber HonorTheCall discovered that both TmarTn and ProSyndicate own a stake in CS:GO Lotto. The pair are president and vice president of the company and have been since December 3rd, 2015. Yet, in that time, they haven't disclosed this fact, despite uploading numerous videos promoting the site and showing them winning thousands of pounds' worth of weapon skins:
(TmarTn has deleted this video from his feed since HonorTheCall's video was published.)
TmarTn has pulled two of the videos which HonorTheCall and H3H3Productions highlighted in their investigations. The first is the video embedded above, which has handily been reuploaded by another Youtuber, and the second is one in which TmarTn claims he has done nothing wrong, saying:
"Basically what's 'breaking news' now is that myself and a few other people, including Tom, own CSGO Lotto. This is something that has never been a secret.
"Faking something like that and being deceiving something like that would be one of the worst things you could possibly do.
"I don't know how you could sleep at night knowing you ripped out other people with misinformation and cause them harm. How could you live with yourself?
"The problem with that would be if I didn't divulge that information and I do. You can look in the description of every single one of my CSGO Lotto videos"
However, it appears that disclosure lines were only added to the video descriptions since Tmartn was called out. For instance, this video from December last year, after TmarTn had filed papers as president of the site, has now been pulled from his channel. However, if you look at an old archive of the video from April, you'll see that in its description there is no disclosure:
For his part in things, ProSyndicate has apologised to the people who feel they were mislead:
I'll update this story as I hear more.