Twitch streamers have gained massive popularity in the last few years, with the gaming community following numerous platform creators that play popular video games, esports, and even casino games. While some view gambling as just another type of entertainment, many do not agree with streamers supporting the industry by accepting sponsorship deals by gambling companies.
With a few major streamers using their Twitch platforms to promote gambling, this became a hot topic, with both influencers and the streaming platform facing huge criticism. As gambling became a popular meta on Twitch, streamers who were purely dedicated to playing casino games started appearing on the platform.
While some streamers were earning profit thanks to their viewers who enjoyed watching content creators like Roshtein and Teuf spinning the reels of different slots, other major streamers started cashing in money on gambling sponsorships. Twitch streamers like xQc and Adin Ross, who are considered some of the mainstream creators on the platform, enjoyed quite the profit thanks to deals with gambling operators.
However, some of the more popular streamers at Twitch expressed their disapproval of such sponsorships, claiming their young audience should not be exposed to gambling. While many agree with the risks of promoting gambling to young and easily impressionable people, others find the appeal in the profit they make thanks to gambling sponsorships. The two contradictory sides of the issue are what make gambling Twitch streamers quite controversial personas.
Why Twitch Streamers Are Tempted to Accept Gambling Sponsorships
One of the biggest advantages of the gambling businesses is that they can easily adapt to the constantly evolving industry. That is why gambling operators can easily find different ways to promote their products. One way that casino operators are promoting their websites is via popular streamers on Twitch.
Affiliate marketing is one of the main strategies of gambling companies to popularise their platforms. The way this strategy works is by joining forces between the service provider and an affiliate, a Twitch streamer in this case. The way affiliates promote virtual casinos is by offering their audience promotional codes, sign-up offers, special discounts, and other incentives to promote their gambling sponsors. For each player who gets on board, the affiliate receives a commission for promoting the casino.
Those who qualify for the affiliate programme of Twitch or become Twitch Partners can earn 50% of the platform’s subscription fee of $4.99 (£3.99 for UK subscribers, based on local sub pricing policy). That way, even streamers who have only around 1,000 monthly subscribers can earn about $2,500 (£2,000) in a month. These numbers do not even include the commission streamers earn from their affiliate deals with online casinos and poker sites. Despite the tempting benefits that Twitch Partners can enjoy, there are several minimum metrics that streamers must meet to qualify for the partnership programme of the platform:
- Average 75 concurrent viewers in the last 30 days
- Have at least 12 different streams in the last month
- Have a total of at least 25 streaming hours in the last month
Before a streamer becomes a Twitch Partner, however, he/she must first become an Affiliate. To do that, streamers must reach 500 or more minutes of streaming for at least 7 days. Moreover, streamers must reach 3 concurrent viewers, which is the part where most streamers are struggling.
Controversy Involving Popular Twitch Streamer Gambling During Streams
Recently, Twitch’s most popular streamer, xQc, announced that he will return to making sponsored gambling streams. This announcement angered many of his followers, especially after he had earlier announced that he was struggling with a gambling addiction.
The former pro Overwatch player began promoting gambling products in his streams in early 2021. However, in June, xQc shared he had gambling issues that cost him hefty losses. After his confession, the streamer stopped gambling-related streams and put an end to his partnerships with gambling companies.
On May 17 of 2022, however, xQc went back to his old habits, playing slots in one of his most recent streams on Twitch. Viewers who have joined the said stream expressed their disappointment, blaming the streamer for promoting gambling on his channel. A large number of his followers unsubscribed while others launched a meme spree on xQc’s subreddit.
The top Twitch streamer tried to defend his decision and lashed out at his followers who were criticising him for going back to sponsored gambling streams. In quite a long chat box rant, xQc shared that he was free to do whatever he wants and if he enjoys gambling, he will continue to gamble in his streams.
While there were people supporting xQc, sharing it is not his responsibility to do streams that were suitable for children. However, the streamer also faced criticism from several fellow Twitch streamers like Pokimane, Asmongold, Mizkif, and Ludwig.
While some simply put the blame on streamers who accept gambling deals, others find the streaming platform responsible for distributing gambling content. Streamer Asmongold recently shared his thoughts on gambling streams, stating that he believes Twitch should permanently ban any gambling content on the platform, forcing streamers to quit streaming slot gaming sessions.
Measures Taken by Twitch to Restrict the Amount of Gambling Streams
Despite the uproar, Twitch is not planning to ban gambling streams soon as the platform views such restrictions as way too harsh. However, Twitch has imposed some measures to restrict the freedom of gambling streamers. Thanks to its new policy, streaming of slots, dice games, or roulette is conducted by following some strict guidelines.
With the ban on sharing casino links and promotional codes on their streams, many Twitch influencers started employing their other social media accounts to promote their sponsors. The said links that have been banned on Twitch can often be found on the Facebook pages or Discord servers of streamers who promote gambling operators. While they cannot share links connected to gambling businesses, streamers are still allowed to share links to their social media accounts and that is exactly what most gambling streamers currently do.
While the new restriction applies to gambling websites that offer slots, roulette and dice games, the new policy does not affect poker streamers. As the card game is widely accepted as a game of skill rather than a game of chance, streamers playing poker can still make money out of affiliated deals by providing links to poker rooms and promotional codes while they are streaming.
Issues of Gambling Streams on Platforms Like Twitch
As Twitch wants to protect its users, it is adamant about learning how gambling streams may affect viewers. This is why the streaming company is investing in research on gambling content on the platform. According to one of the first studies concentrated on gambling streams on Twitch, it was revealed that about 4% of adults in the UK watch gambling streams on the slot channels on Twitch. Meanwhile, 14% of respondents reported actually playing such slot games online.
No age restrictions imposed
The same study also revealed a correlation between watching gambling streams and self-reporting problem gambling. However, cause and effect are still not clearly established. That said, gambling streams spark heated regulatory discussions as many criticise streaming platforms due to exposing the youth to gambling content.
One of the main issues of the platform is that age-gating and age verification on Twitch is far from sufficient. Even though streamers may indicate that a specific stream is intended only for an adult audience. Despite that, underage viewers can still click on the stream and watch without having to confirm their age.
Lack of transparency
Another big issue with gambling streams is the lack of transparency when it comes to affiliate deals with streamers. In some cases, if streamers do not disclose that they have been sponsored by the casino where they play during their streams, they might commit fraud. In some cases, streamers are awarded regular top-ups to their balances as a part of their sponsorship deals. Such practices, however, raise the issue of the mental health of streamers themselves as they may also fall into the trap of problem gambling when they receive unlimited amounts to play with.
Confusion about gambling legality in different jurisdictions
The streamer and the gambling operator he/she is promoting may be located in different jurisdictions. That may be an issue as it can be difficult to determine the legality of the gambling products the streamer is promoting. Since it is unclear which local or international laws are applied in such cases, the issue becomes quite complex.
Why Viewers Enjoy Watching Gambling Streams and Should They Be Banned
Even though gambling streams have plenty of issues, there are still numerous viewers who enjoy watching streamers gamble online. While some worry about gambling streaming causing more harm, many people who are having problems with gambling enjoy watching such streams to cope with their urges to gamble. In similar cases, gambling streamers may even be considered a tool to recover from gambling addiction.
In addition to using gambling live streams as a coping mechanism, viewers may also have other motives to enjoy such content. The interest in gambling streams may also come from other aspects such as seeking entertainment or a desire for financial profit from gambling.
Outright banning gambling streams may be a way too draconian measure but this niche should definitely be regulated better. However, this requires the attention of all stakeholders, including streamers, consumers, streaming platforms, gaming developers, and parents. Only the common efforts of everyone involved in this sector will ensure that the main objective of gambling streams will be providing entertainment for both streamers and their subscribers.