Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch announced Tuesday night that it will begin cracking down on streams promoting certain types of betting sites in the coming weeks. The move comes after several prominent streamers publicly considered a “Twitch blackout” to protest what they see as Twitch’s implicit promotion of harmful and addictive gaming behavior. Gambling concerns among some streamers became relevant this week thanks in part to Sliker, a somewhat prominent streamer who admitted in a broadcast last weekend to severe gambling addiction as a result of CS: GO . Regular readers will recognize that type of game as one that Valve and other streamers have struggled with for years.
Sliker says he solicited at least $200,000 in donations from other streamers and viewers under false pretenses, using the money to fund his gambling habit rather than help with a temporary claimed cash flow problem. “I don’t know what to say to the people I borrowed from,” Sliker said in his confession sequence. “This is the epitome of the game. I mean don’t touch it.”
Following that controversy, top streamers Imane ‘Pokimane’ Anys, Matthew ‘Mizkif’ Rinaudo, and Devin Nash began discussing what they saw as Twitch’s gaming problem as part of a long joint stream.
Nash has been an outspoken critic of Twitch’s lack of action regarding gambling on the platform and Recently discussed how he left Twitch months ago over the issue. “The game is bad for young Twitch users, bad for legitimate advertisers, and lowers the quality of the entire site,” he wrote. “Legitimate advertisers don’t want their ads to run alongside online casino ads. They don’t want to support children’s gaming advertising. This decision is costing Twitch cultural fairness and real revenue.”
On Sunday’s joint broadcast, Nash read a comment from a viewer suggesting that a number of streamers with a large viewer base should band together to threaten “a week-long strike on Christmas” unless Twitch makes an “in-game concession.” Rinaudo instantly replied that he would “do it in a minute”, prompting Nash to add that he thought it would “work f***ing good”.
“If there are streamers who are not willing to do that [strike]so they’re not willing to put their money where their mouth is,” Anys added. “If you really think the game is that bad, you should be willing to take a week off.”
an ongoing problem
Fast forward to Tuesday, when Twitch responded with a tweeted “Twitch betting update”.” Under new rules that take effect on October 18, Twitch said it will ban all broadcasts from “gambling sites that include slots, roulette, or craps,” unless they are licensed “in either the US.” USA. or other jurisdictions that provide sufficient protection to the Consumer.”
“We all did it”, Anys tweeted after Twitch’s announcement on Tuesday. “The public pressure, the tweets, the awareness, it all matters.”
If you really think gambling is that bad, you should be willing to take a week off.
Imane ‘Pokimane’ Anys
While Twitch promised more details of the policy in the coming weeks, it clarified that “websites that focus on sports betting, fantasy sports, and poker” would not be included in its gaming restrictions. That’s one exception that seems likely to upset prominent gaming-based streamers like Tyler “Trainwrecks” Niknam, one of the most popular personalities on the platform.
“To be clear, people who use slot machines as scapegoats, [blackjack] and roulette and not blaming the individual, are the real problem”, Niknam he tweeted on Sunday. “On top of that, Sliker was addicted to sports betting, the only type of gambling that is normalized…”
Many gambling-focused streamers hide or downplay their on-stream game losses or urge their viewers to take advantage of promotional offers from gambling sites (something that is already partially restricted by Twitch). But Niknam seems to go out of his way to highlight how these games are designed to give the house an edge and drain players’ money. “THIS IS NOT THE REALITY OF GAMBLING, YOU WILL LOSE”, Niknam wrote in a recent tweet featuring a clip of a $2.25 million roulette win alongside Drake. “Betting is losing, don’t play” hey write in his Instagram biography.
But Niknam is also facing some controversy for allegedly sending Twitch employees tens of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency during a giveaway broadcast, move some as payment to protect your position on the platform. In response to a request for comment from Ars, Twitch noted that the employees involved in that giveaway “are no longer Twitch staff and have not been for some time.”
Niknam has not responded to a request for comment from Ars Technica, but said in a recent broadcast that “he did this live in front of 60,000 people. If there was a conspiracy, there would be hidden DMs from me… it was a fun joke.”
Whatever final rules Twitch decides regarding gambling on the platform, it seems unlikely that this issue will go away anytime soon. Gambling streamers seem like too much of a part of Twitch for the company to ban them outright. On the other hand, the platform now appears to be suffering serious reputational damage among some viewers and streamers for its ties to gambling. ace sports announcers have recently foundwhich can be a difficult tightrope to walk.
(Ashley Belanger contributed to this report)