Amazon’s own streaming platform Twitch
announced late Tuesday
that it will begin cracking down on streams that promote certain types of gambling sites in the coming weeks. The move comes after a number of prominent streamers publicly contemplated a “Twitch blackout” to protest what they see as Twitch’s implicit encouragement of harmful and addictive gaming behavior.
Some streamers’ concerns about gambling have become newly relevant this week, thanks in part to Sliker, a
somewhat prominent streamer
admitted to a stream last weekend
to a serious gambling addiction on the outcome of
Matches. Regular readers will recognize this type of gambling as one that Valve and other streamers have struggled with for years.
Sliker says he solicited at least $200,000 in donations from fellow streamers and viewers under false pretenses and used the money to fund his gaming habits rather than help with an alleged temporary cash flow problem. “I don’t know what to say to the people I’ve borrowed from,” Sliker said on his confession stream. “This is the epitome of gambling. I want to say don’t touch it.”
Following that controversy, major streamers Imane “Pokimane” Anys, Matthew “Mizkif” Rinaudo, and Devin Nash began discussing what they saw as part of Twitch’s gambling problem a long shared stream.
Nash has been an outspoken critic of Twitch’s inaction regarding gambling on the platform and lately discussed how he left Twitch months ago because of the problem. “Gambling is harmful to young Twitch users, bad for legitimate advertisers and lowers overall site quality,” he wrote. “Legitimizing advertisers do not want their ads to appear alongside online casino ads. You do not want to support the promotion of gambling to children. This decision costs Twitch cultural justice and real revenue.”
In the joint stream on Sunday, Nash Read a viewer comment He suggested a number of streamers with large viewer bases should join forces to threaten “a week-long strike over Christmas” unless Twitch makes a “gambling concession”. Rinaudo immediately responded that he “would get it done in a minute,” prompting Nash to add that he thought it “would work pretty damn well.”
“If there are streamers who are not willing to do that [strike]then they’re not willing to put their money where their mouth is,” Anys added. “If you really think gambling is that bad, you should be willing to take a week off.”
A constant theme
Fast forward to Tuesday when Twitch replied with a tweeted “Update on gambling on Twitch.” Under the new rules, which go into effect Oct. 18, Twitch said it would ban any streaming of “gambling sites that contain slots, roulette, or craps games” unless they are “either in the United States or other jurisdictions that provide sufficient licensed consumer protection.”
“We did it, y’all,” Anys tweeted following Twitch’s announcement on Tuesday. “Public pressure, tweets, awareness-raising, it’s all important.”
If you really think gambling is that bad, you should be ready to take a week off.Imane ‘Pokimane’ Anys
While promising more policy details in the coming weeks, Twitch clarified that “sites focused on sports betting, fantasy sports and poker” would not be included in its gambling restrictions. That’s an exception that’s likely to annoy prominent gambling-based streamers like Tyler “Trainwrecks” Niknam. one of the most popular personalities on the platform.
“To be clear, the people who scapegoat slots [blackjack] & roulette and not blaming the individual is the real problem,” Niknam tweeted Sunday. “Additionally, Sliker was a sports betting addict, the only type of gambling that is normalized…”
Many gambling-focused streamers hide or downplay their gambling losses on stream, or encourage their viewers to take advantage of gambling site promotional offers (something that Twitch is already partially curbing). But Niknam seems to make an effort to highlight how these games are designed to give the house an edge and drain players’ money. “THIS IS NOT THE REALITY OF PLAYING, YOU WILL LOSE”, Niknam wrote in a recent tweet with a clip of a $2.25 million roulette win alongside Drake. “Gambling is losing, don’t gamble” he writes in his Instagram bio.
But Niknam is also reportedly facing some controversy Sending Twitch staffers tens of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency during a giveaway stream, a move some see as a payoff to protect his position on the platform. In response to a request for comment from Ars, Twitch noted that the staff involved in this giveaway “are no longer Twitch staff and have not been for a while.”
Niknam has not responded to a request for comment from Ars Technica said on a recent stream that he “did that live in front of 60,000 people. If there was a conspiracy there would be hidden DMs from me…it was a fun banter.”
Regardless of the final rules Twitch decides regarding gambling on the platform, it seems unlikely that this problem will go away any time soon. Gambling streamers seem to be too big a part of Twitch for the company to ban them entirely. On the downside, the platform now appears to be suffering serious reputational damage among some viewers and streamers because of its gambling ties. As Sports channels recently foundthat can be a difficult balancing act.
(Ashley Belanger contributed to this report)
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