Tis the season to return your unwanted Christmas gifts and claim your refunds, and in the spirit of the holidays ESforce Holding and Robert Borewik have announced a refund program for CSGOLounge and Dota2Lounge customers.
Borewik founded the sites which allow the trading and gambling of in-game items and were at the centre of the skins betting storm this year. ESforce Holding invested in both sites in May and is said to be the majority stakeholder. In August TEO reported that ESforce Holding, which itself is part of an umbrella of companies owned by Alisher Usmanov, owned 90% of the company behind CSGOLounge.
In a statement posted on the CSGOLounge site on December 29th it was revealed that some users will be refunded for skins lost.
The statement (which you can read in full here) posits that each site ‘never had any tools for money input and output and never made profit as a betting platform’. It goes on: ‘The only way to receive income was advertising. In the summer of 2016, after our Steam bots had been hacked, our platforms had to implement a small fee for a 3 month period in order to defend our bots and recover lost items. After Valve had banned our bots with in-game items which belonged to the CSGOLounge and DOTA2Lounge users, ESforce and Borewik made a decision to refund the items with their own means’.
Those behind CSGOLounge and Dota2Lounge have always maintained that they are ‘entertainment platforms’ and not involved in profiting from gambling. Following Valve’s disagreement and actions (the cease and desist letters in July) a statement from the sites in the summer stated that they would be making moves towards acquiring a legal gambling licence. In mid August a notice on the site signed off by Borewik and the Lounge teams, stated that it would be closing its virtual items betting function in certain regions (16 countries) but continuing as an entertainment and information platform with new features to be announced.
Whilst there were a number of sites offering skins betting at this point, CSGOLounge was the largest and ESBReport claims that in “July 2016 CSGOLounge was the world’s largest skin gambling website, taking in the equivalent of $38 million in handle in the month of July alone, an equivalent of roughly 40,000 skins per match”.
In late September CSGOLounge made its ‘comeback’ with a new coin based betting system, which it was said ‘entails a couple of new features including; coins, betting, rankings, notifications, and more’. In that same post, it noted that ‘We are working on a solution for items withdrawal’.
In this the latest notice to users, Borewik stated: “Since the launch we have been working openly and honestly and always paid a lot of attention to user feedback. Cheating has never been permitted in our services. We would like to thank our users for their patience, and we are sorry that it took so long to make the decision. Thank you for your support.”
Of course, the refund program won’t be getting underway immediately. The frozen bot items will begin to be refunded from March 2017 as the post states ‘We are currently working on the technical side of the refund mechanism and legal aspects of the issue’.
It also confirmed that on January 31st 2017 the results of the platform’s virtual coin bets game would be ‘summarised’ and that the most active users will receive rewards with a prize fund that amounts to $20,000 (£16,000). Coin balances will then be set to their default condition on February 1st.
Esports Insider says: Who’d have thought there’d be more drama emanating from CSGOLounge before the new year? Whilst a long awaited refund program sounds like a move towards integrity and making amends, the full details aren’t clear.
For example what constitutes the ‘most active users’, and moreover some users are doubtless going to be peeved about the coin balances being reset from February.