Illegal gambling streams on Twitch will now be closely monitored
A USA-based live streaming platform called Twitch (owned by Amazon) was originally designed for users to channel and provide commentary on video games. But of course, not one online platform in the world goes without a few individuals using it for completely unrelated purposes. Even strange ones like ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), fortune telling, ladies in bikinis releasing intestinal gases, and more. But now Twitch has a new "genre" to deal with - channels streaming illegal gambling.
So far, there haven’t been many issues with off-topic content, but recently Twitch ran into an issue of popular channels like Xqc, Trainwrecks & Rosh, making eye-widening mounds of money on online casinos. Some Twitch accounts would win as much as $400,000 while streaming the slots, Blackjack, and Baccarat games. Is this considered video gaming? Sure, but the problem was that the streamers were doing so on gambling sites that were restricted for US players.
Not only that, but a good chunk of the viewers happened to be minors. There’s no harm in watching someone make bets online if you’re underage, but those who aren’t familiar with gambling laws and regulations might be unaware of the consequences that come from winning money on restricted online casinos. Plus, minors can easily snatch a debit card out of their mother’s purse and register on one of the websites using false information.
Said Twitch accounts were using VPN to access online casinos like Stake.com and Duelbits. They mainly gambled with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and more. Quite some money was going in and out of the offshore sites, and the casino operators carried on without banning the Stream players. Some even sponsored the viral channels to stream their gambling sites, offering as much as $1.4M - $1.6M in hopes of growing their business due to the astronomical number of viewers.
This “exchange” worked for a while. A popular Twitch streamer, xQc, reported that an astounding number of viewers used his sign-up code to gamble on the said crypto casino sites. Thankfully, he was one of the individuals that ended the illegal gambling streams on his channel after the controversy arose. Mizkif also decided to take proper action and reached out to Twitch, prompting them to do something about this problem of shady gambling.
“Morality came into play. It did. I felt shitty doing any type of gambling sponsorship,” one of the Twitch users commented on the matter.
Many other channels backed out of this sham in time before getting into massive trouble. Some, however, continue gambling on illegal casino sites with no remorse.
Stake.com and Duelbits are based overseas, and don’t even have a proper license to operate anyway, so right off the bat, it seems like sketchy business. Not much can be done about these websites in terms of prosecution, and operators allowing players from restricted countries is an issue that’s difficult to pin down, especially since they’re based in far-away regions like Curacao.
Jeff Ifrah, an attorney who specializes in online gambling law, stated the following in regards to illegal Twitch gambling streams: “My advice to them is that, basically, the underlying activity is illegal..There’s a lot of money in it,” he says. “Streamers have told me, ‘Hey, I don't want to just give this up. This is a big opportunity for me, because these sites pay a lot of money.’”
So the only thing left to do now is for Twitch to step up and start monitoring these channels to first of all stop this mass encouragement of gambling before the eyes of minors and to cut off any streams that are being sponsored for displaying illegal activities.
“We strictly prohibit illegal content and activity on the service and take action in all verified incidents of illegal gambling that are reported to us. Our Community Guidelines make clear that ‘[Streamers] must respect all applicable local, national, and international laws while using our services.” Twitch representatives commented.
It’s about time Twitch catches up with upholding higher standards when it comes to these issues. Even YouTube strictly prohibits suchlike activities unless the online gambling sites have been reviewed. The rest of the Twitch channels are up for an unpleasant surprise if they don’t stop soon, as illegal gambling is subject to hefty penalties.
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