The Twitch Online Casino Viewbot Problem: Not an Epidemic Yet But...

Written by:
Alejandro Botticelli
Published on:
Oct/25/2018

The social media streaming platform Twitch has long been a popular medium for poker pros to showcase their skills, and now online casino interests are looking to capitalize.  The later has encountered a bit of a hiccup in the form of viewbots.


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What is a Viewbot?

OnlinePoker.net, which reports on the apparent issue, writes:

Simply put, a viewbot is a fake account that exists merely to drive up viewer counts on Twitch channels. They don’t represent people actually watching a stream and are instead run by automated software. Because Twitch shows the channels with the most viewers at the top of their categories (in this case “Casino”), these inflated viewer counts mislead people looking for content into thinking that a given channel is very popular when, in fact, almost everyone watching is a bot.

Not an Epidemic Yet But...

Typically, channels that feature these viewbots will typically broadcast demo reels of automatic gameplay that don’t include any human interaction whatsoever.  The hope is that an occasional "real human being" will stumble upon the channel, assume it is possible, and click on the advertiser affiliate link.

These channels are easy to disguise but there are signs.

OnlinePoker.net points them out:

Skewed viewer-to-follow ratios such as a very large number of viewers (maybe 1000) but only two actual followers.

Also look for senseless chat that does not pertain to the action at hand.

From OnlinePoker.net:

These chatbot messages are generally spaced out regularly with two or three seconds between them as opposed to real human chat text, which comes in at unpredictable intervals.


Real Twitch streamers like Americas Cardroom CEO Phil Nagy regularly engage with viewers

Violators

Casinoblast, Dubrix_Casino, and John_Casinogame have been singled out as prime examples of this phenomena by the likes of Nathan Grayson.

Grayson is a Kotaku reporter and expert in the field of PC gaming, Overwatch and, of course, Twitch.

Grayson notes that approximately 5% of the most popular channels on Twitch, or 7 out of 50 last count, are in fact casino streamers that “pop up for a day, almost instantaneously amass thousands of highly suspect viewers, stream for a few hours, and advertise the heck out of gambling sites.”

Twitch hasn't taken this issue lying down.

In January a California judge ordered bot makers Michael and Katherine Anjomi to permanently shut down their software and pay Twitch a total of $1,371,139 after the streaming platform sued the couple.

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Viewbot developers are popping up across the Net

Viewbots Big Business or Bad Business?

There are actually websites that sell viewbots, and they are popping up across the Internet at a relatively fast rate.  These companies do not appear to be permitted within the Google Adwords platform, thus limiting them to organic search only.

Twitch-Viewbot.com, for example, offers the following promotional pitch to those seeking out viewbots: “By using our handy twitch viewer bot webpanel, you can determine yourself how many viewers you want your stream to have. Dispatch as many viewers to your channel as you'd like, as often as you want.”

It's akin to a kamikaze business model long term.

In addition to the Anjomis, Twitch is suing seven other bot-makers.  It's not immediately known whether Twitch-Viewbot is among them.

The use of viewbots is far from a victimless ploy.

OnlinePoker.net notes:

Anyone who actually clicks on an afflink advertised by a false Twitch.tv casino “streamer” may find themselves in the hands of a rogue operator.

They added:

Honest casino affiliate streamers have put a lot of resources into growing their audiences and would be loathe to partner with disreputable online casino brands for fear of driving their followers away.

- Alejandro Botticelli, Gambling911.com

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