Popular streaming site Twitch has stepped up its game against gambling by adding two more gambling sites to its list of prohibited sites: Blaze and Gamdom.
“Our goal now, as it was last fall, is to protect our community, address predatory behavior, and make Twitch safer,” Twitch said in a brief statement on Twitter earlier this month.
The company’s site bans put a focus on the impact of gambling on the streaming community. As well as the dangers of unlicensed gambling sites.
How Twitch’s ban on gambling sites began
To understand how Twitch arrived at its current stance against unlicensed gambling sites, you must go back to last fall.
In September, a popular streamer, ItsSliker, revealed he’d scammed fellow streamers and followers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for the consequences of his gambling addiction.
“I wanted to go live today and I wanted to say a few things,” Sliker said, pausing before continuing. “I want to say, first and foremost, the people that I’ve done dirty, I’m really sorry.”
He went on to provide details of how his gambling addiction affected him, saying:
“It’s made me into an ill person; it’s made me into an evil person. I know I can be a good person. I know in my heart I’m a good person but in my brain, I’m stupid because if it weren’t for this addiction..why would I go to anyone [for money]? I’ve been doing a lot of bad things ever since I started streaming. I’ve been going wrong paths; I went down the extreme wrong paths.”
Sliker revealed that he gambled before his streaming career, but his gambling hit “extreme” levels after he started streaming.
The scandal rocked the Twitch universe, with prominent streamers threatening to boycott the site until something was done.
Twitch responded by updating its gambling policy to ban “streaming of gambling sites that include slots, roulette, or dice games that aren’t licensed either in the US or other jurisdictions that provide sufficient consumer protection.”
The updated ban meant several sites, including Stake.com, Rollbit.com, Duelbits.com, and Roobet.com were banned.
Is Twitch’s new gambling policy effective?
Twitch’s gambling ban, generally speaking, outlaws streams of unlicensed slots, roulette, and dice-game sites. This is a good thing. Unlicensed and offshore betting sets aren’t subject to the same consumer protection regulations that pertain to legal betting sites.
Twitch understood that popular streamers, who have millions of followers, could very likely lead those followers to deposit money on sites that are under no legal obligation to pay out wins or make deposits available. Legally and ethically, that could cause a mess for Twitch.
However, it’s important to note that Twitch hasn’t banned all gambling streaming, just those related to unlicensed sites. Twitch users can still watch people promote and gamble on regulated sports betting, fantasy sports, and poker sites.
In the context of the Sliker fiasco and the company’s admission that it wants to curb exposing its community to “potential harm,” its gambling policy is somewhat watered down because it still allows streamers to broadcast legalized gambling.
So, while the expanded gambling policy may prevent unlicensed sites from roping streamers into addiction, regulated sites can do just as much damage. And, in some cases, those losses are very public and, in a certain sense, almost flippant.
For example, xQC, one of Twitch’s most popular streamers, admitted in May 2022 that he lost nearly $2 million gambling in just one month. xQc, whose real name is Felix Lengyel, said, per a PC Gamer post:
“I have one of the biggest, most insanely addictive personalities you’ll ever find. I’m addicted to everything I do […] I still do it. Is that good? No, that’s terrible. That’s an illness. That’s ill. I’m ill. But you know what, I can afford to be ill. I’m lucky.”
That certainly begs the question: If protecting the Twitch community from the ills of gambling addictions is important to Twitch, why not ban all betting streams?
And, if Twitch is concerned about gambling addictions, it would do well to create responsible gambling guidelines with a requirement for all those who broadcast gambling streams to include prominent placement of responsible gaming resources during their streams.