Twitch has taken its final stand.
After months of controversy, the popular streaming service announced it will be banning users from posting videos of themselves playing roulettes, slots or dice from unlicensed gambling sites. The new policy takes effect Oct. 18.
Sports betting, fantasy sports and poker remain, however.
The move comes after years of debate centred around the ethics in allowing top-tier Twitch streamers the ability to broadcast their gambling exploits to a young – and often underage – audience.
Outrage reached a boiling point on Sept. 18 when a popular UK streamer, ItsSliker, confessed to scamming fans – and fellow streamers – out of hundreds of thousands of dollars to fuel his gambling addiction.
Some of the platform’s biggest names threatened a boycott if nothing changed. Twitch effectively banned unlicensed gambling two days later on Sept.20.
Twitch targets offshore markets including Stake
Banned are offshore sites such as Rollbit, Duelbits and Roobet.com.
But the biggest fish is easily Stake – a crypto-based casino and sports betting platform known to offer big bucks in sponsorship deals.
Over the years, Stake – based in Curaçao – has doubled down on Twitch.
Multi-million-dollar sponsorship deals have been offered to some of the platform’s biggest names. Top-tier names such as Felix “xQc” Lengyel (11.2 million followers) and Adin Ross (6.5 million) – amongst others – have gotten on board, shifting to almost exclusively gambling content.
Rapper Drake also promotes Stake.
Stake did not immediately respond for comment about Twitch’s decision.
Twitch takes next step in gambling policy
Unsurprisingly, due to Twitch’s younger demographic pool (75% of its viewers are between the ages of 16-34), concerns were raised.
That forced the Amazon-owned business’s hand in August 2021 when its terms of service were changed by banning link sharing and referral codes to sites that offer slots, roulette or dice games. At the time, many streamers lamented the halfway measure – pressing forward for a complete gambling ban.
Twitch itself, via a statement, acknowledged its shortcomings.
“While we prohibit sharing links or referral codes to all sites that include slots, roulette or dice games, we’ve seen some people circumvent those rules and expose our community to potential harm.”
Twitch streamer scams thousands to fuel gambling addiction
While heated discussions continued, the tipping point came on Sept. 18, 2022.
That’s when Abraham “ItsSliker” Mohammad (431k followers) admitted to scamming fans and fellow content creators out of at least $300,000 – although the actual number is believed to be much higher.
In a tearful confession, the UK streamer detailed how he borrowed money from others under the false pretence that his bank account was frozen.
“I deserve punishment. Whatever happens, happens. I don’t know what to say to the people I borrowed from.”
Mohammad claims his gambling habits began by playing the popular first-person shooter, “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.” In the video game, players are able to purchase items such as weapons and “skins” with real-money in a manner similar to casino chips. According to the streamer, the experience funnelled him into becoming a full-fledged sports gambling addict.
Twitch have since removed Sliker’s partnership badge – which allows monetization – and subscribe button. But it stopped short of banning Mohammad altogether, however.
Twitch streamers, audience divided on gambling ban
High-profile streamers such as Hasan “Hasanabi” Piker and Tyler “Trainswreckstv” Nikham have admitted to being scammed by Mohammad.
Popular streamers including Pokimane (Imane Anys) and Mizkif (Matthew Rinaudo) threatened a Twitch-boycott if changes weren’t made.
Meanwhile, xQc and Ludwig Ahgren (3.1 million followers) have promised to compensate those impacted by Sliker.
All that commotion helped push Twitch’s gambling issues to the forefront once more, culminating in the ban.
Predictably, financially-impacted streamers, such as Nikham, voiced their displeasure via Twitter.
“To be clear, the people scapegoating slots, BJ & roulette and not blaming the individual, are the real problem. On top of that, Sliker was a sports-betting addict, the one type of gambling that is normalized,” Nikham said.
Others, such as Ross – a Stake-sponsored streamer – criticized the platform’s priorities in light of increasing concerns around sexually-explicit content.
High-profile Twitch streamers react to gambling ban
However, the platform’s biggest name, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, applauded the decision.
As did fellow anti-gambling advocates.
Twitch stops short of completely banning gambling
Twitch still allows gambling but it must be compliant with US regulations. Thus, slots, roulette and dice gambling can still go live alongside sports betting.
In fact, despite the news, slots — the overarching category of gambling on Twitch – currently ranks #10 on the platform’s most-viewed games.
Some streamers are already calling for that to change.
Twitch mentioned more details are to follow in the coming weeks so more changes could be forthcoming. Stake, numerous high-end Twitch streamers and Twitch did not immediately respond to PlayCanada for comment.