Twitch has pledged to prohibit live streams of high profile gambling sites from next month, sending shockwaves through the sector and leaving many unanswered questions.
Live gambling streams are a mega money business on the Amazon-owned streaming platform.
Those sites, which are not licensed in the US or subject to the same levels of consumer protection standards, will now be banned from the platform on 18 October 2022, according to an official statement posted to the Twitch Twitter account at 11pm on 20 September.
An update on gambling on Twitch. pic.twitter.com/lckNTY9Edo
— Twitch (@Twitch) September 20, 2022
The tweet has since gone viral, earning 37,000 retweets at the time of writing.
Gambling on Twitch has inspired some major online controversies in recent times, despite being promoted by high profile celebrity ambassadors and influential content creators.
For example, Canadian rap star Drake – arguably the most successful commercial musician of the last decade – regularly streams live while placing bets with cryptocasino operator Stake.com, which has never been licensed in Canada or the US.
Twitch’s most watched streamer of the last two years is Canadian personality Félix “xQc” Lengyel. In 2021, his streams amassed nearly 275 million hours of views.
xQc regularly goes live with gambling streams. He places huge wagers, often more than $100,000 per spin.
There are transparency issues with gambling streams like this.
Often, the casino operator will fund the streamers so they aren’t gambling with their own money. This makes them more likely to adopt risky playing behaviours or bet more than they can afford. But this is not always obvious or apparent to their audience.
Speaking of audience, age-gaiting is another major concern when it comes to Twitch and gambling. According to Twitch, the average age of a user is 21, with an estimated 20% of global users aged between 13- and 17-years-old – and therefore too young to gamble.
The most recent controversy – and indeed the one that appears to have broken the camel’s back – unravelled earlier this week and centred around Manchester-based content creator ItsSliker.
It transpired that ItsSliker had borrowed money from other popular Twitch streamers to fund his gambling addiction and never managed to pay them back.He asked for the money, often under false pretences, and gambled it away on online casino games.
When the news came to light, some of the most influential personalities on Twitch – including Pokimane, Mizkif, and Devin Nas – threatened to go on strike and stop uploading videos until gambling sponsorship was banned on the platform.
They have been heard loud and clear, according to the latest statement from Twitch, which name-checked high profile sites such as Stake.com, Roobet and Duelbits, among others.
ItsSliker: “I’m going to fix my addiction. I don’t need to explain how big it is. It has made me into an ill person. It has made me into an evil person.”
ItsSliker has been offline since his last upload two days ago, which was filmed before Twitch made its move to ban certain gambling sites.
“I want to say I’m going to go to rehab. I’m going to fix my addiction,” said ItsSliker on camera. “I don’t need to explain how big a thing it is. It has made me into an ill person. It has made me into an evil person.”
Several leading streamers, including the aforementioned xQc, have now vowed to pay off the people he scammed.
As the news of the ban filtered through last night, casino streamer Roshtein was in the middle of a live stream while playing slots on Stake.com.
Roshtein boasts more than 1.1 million followers on Twitch. As the live chat informed him of the message from Twitch, he sat silent for the most part with his head in his hands. He repeatedly said, “oh my god”, before asking: “What does that mean for us?”
He then suggested YouTube as an alternative streaming platform.
Streamers will understandably be looking for alternatives from 18 October. It is a major source of income to most, and there is also insane demand for live slots streams.
One option could see streamers come together to create their own casino gambling platform. This would allow them to circumvent the rules and regulations as it would most likely be run by an entity entirely separate to Amazon or Google.
Watch this space.