Casinos for youSlovakia has become the first country to ban all access to the streaming platform over its unregulated online casino and online poker streams. Is this an isolated event or will we see other jurisdictions follow suit?
The popular streaming website Twitch is no stranger to controversy especially with its uneven policies around dress codes and content. One topic which has become a heated area of debate in the last year is the growing popularity of streamers who gamble live to tens of thousands of viewers.
Essentially these popular streamers have affiliate or sponsorship deals with bitcoin casinos and others to play a variety of casino games as a form of entertainment. The viewers then go along for the ride, sharing in the camaraderie of the activity just not its financial losses or gains.
According to the latest Twitch channel data, there are around more than 6000 channels on Twitch dedicated to online gambling which includes Online Slots, online poker, and table game streams. These streams garnered a combined watch time of more than 29 million hours in the last 30 days.
Emotional Community Response
Given the nature of these streams and a lack of understanding of gambling regulation, many non-gambling streamers have been calling on Twitch to take action and shut down these gambling channels.
The fact of the matter is the majority of streamers who participate in this vertical are working with regulated online casinos and are themselves based in regulated markets such as the UK or Sweden. The call to shut down these streams is baseless as Twitch’s terms and conditions claim that it will not allow illegal activities to be streamed, but in the case of these streamers, they are in fact legally gambling online.
There is one aspect of resistance that does make sense, but it requires Twitch to address their age-gating technology, not the banning of online casino streams. At present Twitch has no verifiable way to check the age of their account holders, which does mean it is possible for children to view these streamers play online slots for real money.
Slovakia Shuts Down Twitch
At the moment online gambling is illegal in Slovakia and this has resulted in the government banning Twitch from being streamed within their borders.
The breaking point for the Slovakian government appears to have been when a local streamer who goes by the moniker dDanis on Twitch began amassing a sizable following for his regular online slot streams.
During these streams, the player would not only allow viewers to watch him play but also promote his partner casinos by offering promo codes to new signups and discount coupons to existing customers. When he also began to play and promote online poker the Slovakian Gaming Authority obtained a court order to suspend his account and subsequently blocked all access to Twitch itself.
Who Will Be Next?
Tyler “Trainwrecks” Niknam is a popular American streamer who has more than 1.5 million followers. Of late Nikham has been shifting his focus from playing video games like Call of Duty: Warzone to online gambling with a penchant for Bitcoin and crypto-focused sites.
If the Slovakian response is a sign of things to come it is not too unrealistic to see the US gambling regulatory authorities take action against Twitch and US-based streamers who are actively engaging with and promoting unregulated casino sites.
The risk of exposing minors to online gambling in an environment that is designed to promote long-term engagement could become a viable target for an aggressive US gambling regime that has made it clear from the outset that it will not stand idly by and allow abuse of its legislation.
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