Twitch is surely on a collision course with streamers once again, this time with those that are engaging with gambling on stream, in what is just the latest pain point for a platform that is primarily used by children and young adults, while -- at its core -- permitting of certain adult themes and content.
Gambling streams have long been a part of streaming but in recent months more and more high-profile streamers have entered the fray with Félix "xQc" Lengyel, Tyler "Trainwrecks" Faraz Niknam, and Ludwig Anders Ahgren all taking part. The issue of whether these streamers are actually gambling with their own money or are being paid handsomely by the companies with which they are betting has also been raised.
The issue threatens to be an issue that not just Twitch feels a need to clarify their stance on, but governmental authorities could step in too.
Gambling is a highly regulated industry and laws around what can and can't be advertised in relation to the industry are stringent in many countries. For example, in February 2019, UK authorities introduced rules that required Bookmakers to use "every targeting tool possible" to ensure online gambling promotions are not seen by under-18s.
However, these laws only apply to companies operating in the UK, and online gambling is a particularly murky world where companies often set up inhospitable jurisdictions where laws and rules are lax or non-existent. The ability for anyone, almost anywhere, to use these platforms creates legal quagmires.
It's a quagmire that some in the streaming industry can see a mile off, and many streamers have called out others in the community who have promoted gambling to their young viewers but that isn't the stance that "Asmongold" took recently, with the streamer calling for an outright ban of gambling on Twitch.
Asmongold feels Twitch needs to do something about gambling streams. (Picture: Twitch/Asmongold)
"Twitch needs to ban gambling streams full stop," tweeted the OTK streamer on 25th June.
"The amount of bullshit and pitfalls this is going to create in the next 6 months will fuck the website in so many ways we don't even realize yet."
Twitch needs to ban gambling streams full stop— Zack (@Asmongold) June 25, 2021
The amount of bullshit and pitfalls this is going to create in the next 6 months will fuck the website in so many ways we don't even realize yet
Just looking at EU gambling laws, anyone could see this will not end well
Adding: "Just looking at EU gambling laws, anyone could see this will not end well."
Asmongold also came to the defence of those that have taken the money to promote gambling, saying "don't hate the people, hate the game," putting the blame for Twitch's gambling problem at the feet of the platform.
"I don't hold doing gambling streams against any streamer because of how lucrative and successful they are," explained Asmongold.
I don't hold doing gambling streams against any streamer because of how lucrative and successful they are— Zack (@Asmongold) June 25, 2021
It's entirely Twitch's responsibility to uphold integrity on their own site, not the streamers
Don't hate the player, hate the game
"It's entirely Twitch's responsibility to uphold integrity on their own site, not the streamers."
This issue comes hot on the heels of Twitch's handling of the "hot tub streamers", a similarly vexed cause célèbre that too had at its centre: advertising, morality, young audiences, and Twitch's TOS and rules.
Twitch ultimately allowed hot tub streamers, offering them up their own category and explaining that being "sexy" is not against the rules. That fix didn't quite work though, as hot tub streamers -- robbed of their casual audience in the booming IRL category -- rebranded as ASMR streamers, a move that prompted Twitch to ban the most prominent ones as an example.
Amouranth was recently banned for a particular style of ASMR stream. (Picture: Twitch/Amouranth)
When it comes to gambling -- and what constitutes gambling in a world of gacha games and loot boxes -- presents a far bigger headache but what is clear is that Twitch needs to do something.