The Ongoing Conflict in the Streaming Community over Gambling Sponsorships

Over the last few years, Twitch has seen a huge surge in popularity, and with that, the ultra-popular streaming platform has had to navigate a fair few controversies that have made headlines across the world, including hot tub streamers and more recently gambling streamers.

What Started The Conflict? 

Gambling streamers broadcast themselves playing online games like slots and casinos while talking to the viewers of their live stream and answering questions. There are currently more than 150 channels on Twitch alone that live stream while playing real money slots with some of them getting tens of thousands of viewers on each stream. Despite the popularity of gambling streams, there are actually several issues with it. Twitch has always had a hands-off approach with their streamers which often results in issues that users bring up – this time its lack of licensing, potential conflicts of interest and a total lack of regulation for gambling streamers.

In recent months some larger streamers have been sponsored by crypto casinos to play casino games and slots on their websites while live streaming on Twitch. Allegedly some of these websites have offered tens of thousands of dollars per hour that the Twitch creators streamed for. Wired recently reported that 64 out of the most popular 1000 streamers on Twitch have streamed sponsored content for cryptocurrency gambling sites. Several of the content creators that streamed sponsored gambling content have been called out by other members of the community.

Why Is Gambling a Problem with the Twitch Community?

One of the biggest issues that members of the community had with this content is the fact that larger streamers are often considered role models for a large community of people that are very often teenagers. These streamers are promoting gambling to younger people that are often more impressionable without showing the more dangerous side of using online casinos, like the risk of addiction or the fact that you can use large sums of money. 

Several streamers have been criticised for glamourising gambling, showing it as fun and a form of entertainment. Being sponsored by gambling websites leads them to push only positive messaging while shying away from the fact that you can lose money and gambling can be a problem. Recently Matthew Mizkif Rinaudo admitted that he hadn’t even been playing with his money while making $35000 per hour to promote these websites.

Another issue is that while crypto casinos allow anonymity for people of legal age, it also provides a space for illegal gambling. Several of these streamers have a younger audience, often around 13-17. If they have a debit card it’s very easy to buy cryptocurrency which they can then gamble with anonymously. By advertising crypto casinos to a younger audience Twitch streamers are potentially encouraging illegal gambling as well as targeting an age group that are very much impressionable and could become more easily addicted.

Another issue with the crypto casinos sponsoring Twitch streamers is that they’re not necessarily licensed to operate in the US. Many of these gambling websites are located overseas and while they should have a license to operate or geo-lock the site so that US users can’t access it, most don’t. This leaves Twitch streamers open to legal consequences for promoting a website that’s not allowed to operate in their territory as well as consequences of using an unlicensed casino.

What Can Be Done To Solve The Problem?

Twitch users have campaigned to see an end to this kind of content and to the lavish sponsorships. Twitch responded by banning the promotion of gambling websites in the form of preventing users from sharing referral codes or links to gambling websites but many users argue that it’s not enough. Huge names like Pokimane and Asmongold have called out streamers like H3H3 who admitted to making $250,000 from referral commission alone but so far it seems to be falling on deaf ears. 

It is hard to know exactly what can be done to prevent the problem – although a strict ban on gambling could be implemented, this isn’t something that Twitch seems to be keen to do. They tend to be a platform that allows its users more freedom to create what they want online and as such, a blanket ban on gambling is something that goes against the grain of what they would usually do. Perhaps they could go down the route of only allowing Twitch users to promote regulated casinos, which means that at least there is the peace of mind that only those over 18 can go on to gamble if they do see one of these promotions on the streaming channel. Regulated casinos give users peace of mind that they are going to have a safe and fair gambling experience, you can check out this list of casino sites that are fully regulated if you want to try online gambling for yourself.

What Does This Mean For The Future?

Twitch has always walked the line of not wanting to kick creators off of the platform as the platform pockets 50% of all subscription fees, but also trying to keep users happy so they don’t leave the platform and take their subscription fees with them. The sponsored gambling stream controversy isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, but it’s something that’s going to need to be cleared up, either by the streaming platforms, the creators themselves or the websites will have to do something to curb illegal gambling before they get banned altogether. The future remains to be seen, it really depends on how much momentum builds up surrounding the ongoing conflict and whether the platform deems it necessary to step in and take action. 

So far they haven’t announced any official changes to the platform and we know it doesn’t work in their favour to ban creators from their platform, so the future remains to be seen when it comes to what action they’ll actually take when it comes to solving the problem of gambling being promoted on their platform. 

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