Video streaming giant Twitch will be banning streaming of gambling sites that aren’t licensed in the US or other jurisdictions that provide sufficient consumer protection.
The streaming of gambling videos on Twitch grew in popularity to become a sizable proportion of all the content on the site and it attracted over 26 million visits by 2020. But since then, gambling videos have been contentious. In the face of mounting criticism, the Amazon-owned live streaming platform announced it would bar videos of gambling sites not licensed in the US or ‘other jurisdictions that provide sufficient consumer protection’. The reason for this is to prevent scams by ‘questionable services that sponsor content on Twitch’.
Scheduled to take effect on 18th October this year, the ban places cryptocurrency gambling sites such as state.com, rollbit.com, duelbits.com robot.com and perhaps others at risk of being excluded. Sports betting and fantasy sports such as fantasy football or poker are not included in the ban. Twitch has not ruled out further restrictions on its gambling streams saying: “We will continue to monitor gambling-related content and update our approach as needed”.
The BBC, commenting on the ban, disclosed that more people watch Twitch streamers gambling on virtual slot machines than play Minecraft. TritchTracker reported that viewers watched over 35 million hours of slot streams in May, setting a record.
The impetus for the ban stems from some licensed and unlicensed gambling sites streaming slots, roulette and dice players making big wins, some of which were fake, scamming players into favouring a particular area encouraged by the prospect of high earnings. Streamers of this content often monetised it through affiliate links to gambling sites in return for a small fee when viewers followed a link and signed up for an account. Promoting gambling websites can be lucrative for streamers. This is demonstrated by the US 1 million a month given by one site to Tyler ‘Trainwreckstv’ Niknam to gamble with. Former Twitch insider David Nash and Streamers and Tubers Matthew ‘Mizkif’ Rinaudo and Imane ‘Pokimane’ with millions of followers applauded the ban arguing that Twitch gambling streams are “damaging to young Twitch users, bad for legitimate advertisers and brings down the quality of the entire site”.
While some have been calling for Twitch to ban all gambling content streams, others warn the ban links could undermine revenues for iGaming affiliates acting as streamers on the site. Still, Phil Pearson, COO at iGaming Group, says that ‘the impact of the measure will be limited’ as the streams are not banned but the way that they advertise has changed ‘due to the lack of care from streamers regarding age gating, and the general push for volume and viewers over responsibility.” Mr Pearson believes the implementation of the ban was only a matter of time and he thinks that streamers will move towards ‘less conventional ways to monetise their content.” He warns that deals with streamers are expected to be exclusive with streamers charging a monthly fee to only stream a specific brand, disadvantages smaller streamers and he predicts that many ‘will likely die off. “They haven’t solved the problem, just removed an income source”. He adds that the only way to regulate the sector would be through the introduction of KYC (Know Your Customer) to confirm that viewers are adults and to verify logins for the viewer. This would tie in with ‘Responsible Gaming Tools’.
Self-Regulation is a step in the right direction. Still Mr Pearson believes that regulators will get involved in the future even though they have not been involved so far because it requires a medium that they do not fully understand.
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