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What to Make of the Twitch Gambling Ban

Written by:
Payton
Published on:
Dec/09/2022

As is often the case in the online casino industry, important events might only make a small ripple in mainstream news reports. However, the recent ban of casino streaming on the Twitch platform made resonating with plenty, as it opened up questions on areas like free speech, regulation of the internet, protection of minors, and so on.  

The first thing to say is that the casino ban is not total. Twitch has said it would not allow gambling streams from streamers who are using sites not based in the United States or from jurisdictions that do not have sufficient legislation. In short, Twitch is banning streams from unlicensed crypto casinos or those with flimsy oversight from regulators. Many of the most popular streamers used these sites, and some would say they did it in an irresponsible manner.  

Not all casino content is banned  

The second thing to say is that the total ban of casino games on these platforms should never be countenanced. Casino offerings like blackjack games are not just casino games; they form part of a cultural spectrum. Many of us who want to learn about something will turn to sites like YouTube or Twitch for tutorials, and there is a lot to learn about blackjack. Thankfully, Twitch seems to have recognized this for now, and it is still allowing content that is “educational”, and that includes content on, say, blackjack strategy or fantasy sports.  

Of course, what Twitch is taking aim at is those streamers who somehow make a living from streaming slots, usually for sums of money that the majority of us will never make in a year. We won’t mention the accounts by name, but you can easily find streamers who do $100K “bonus buys”, or spend over $1 million in a session. It is fantastical stuff, and you can see why Twitch believes it can create a false sense of the reality of gambling.  

Now, it’s important to say that some of the streamers do make a big deal out of responsible gaming practices. Some might provide details of their financial transactions for transparency, and some might make a real effort to show that they have incurred heavy losses. We have also heard testimonies from some viewers who claim that they watch the streamers instead of gambling themselves, which is an important point not usually cited by critics.  

Not a reflection of reality  

However, the case remains that these streams have a built-in problematic issue. Namely, when people watch the content, they don’t want to see the long hours of slog playing – they want to see the highlights, the explosive wins on the slots. That’s where the entertainment comes from. If you want proof, just go to Twitch or YouTube and look at the thumbnails of the videos – they are all packaged to deliver shocking moments. Again, that’s not a criticism, per se; it’s simply a reflection of what the audience wants. 

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Of course, the big question is, what happens next? We have already seen an exodus of some of the streamers to YouTube, but there is every chance that Google – which was never a fan of gambling – will act in a similar fashion. There are other platforms for these accounts to stream on, but none of them offer the same kind of mainstream exposure of Twitch or YouTube.  

In the end, though, this is a reflection of reality. There are many regulations on showing gambling content on television, so why should streaming platforms, many of which have questionable controls on minors accessing content, be any different? Some might talk about freedom of expression, but can anyone say hand on heart that the content on Twitch reflected the reality of gambling? 

- Payton O'Brien, Gambling911.com

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