What Is Twitch Gambling and Why Is It Causing Such a Stir?
Today’s social media landscape is a diverse one, with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter still vying for position while up-and-comers like TikTok make major leaps forward. Then there are the other players in the market, such as Periscope, Snapchat, and Twitch. This last platform may not yet be in the same league as its more famous counterparts, but it’s still a big deal – more than 30 million users are active on Twitch every single day, and 140 million use it every month. Many of these users are online betting fans in search of livestream gambling experiences.
So, we’ve established that Twitch is a popular social and livestreaming platform, but what is Twitch gambling? This refers to the livestreaming of gambling activities, such as slot machines or casino games in an online gambling environment. The livestreamer plays these games while sharing their screen, as well as a livestream of themselves in some cases, and subscribers tune in to watch. In this sense, the concept is far removed from traditional online betting – Twitch does not provide gambling features on its platform, nor does it permit the publication of direct links to gambling websites.
The Controversy of Twitch Gambling
The phenomenon has proved controversial for a number of reasons:
- Twitch’s protections are not always effective
Twitch has made it clear that the platform cannot be used for direct gambling, but this is not always the case. Reports suggest that Twitch’s users can, and do, access online gambling sites via the platform. While this may not be problematic in itself, it does raise ethical questions. Anyone can sign up for a Twitch account, and anyone can use this platform to promote various forms of gambling – not all of them reputable.
- Legal status is unclear
Many nations do not permit online gambling and betting, but what about livestreams of someone else gambling? This is heading into uncharted legal waters. As Twitch does not broadcast streams that may be considered illegal in viewer locations, they will need to untangle this legal conundrum if they are to continue supporting this content in the future.
- Underage individuals could be exposed
Introducing underage viewers to gambling is a genuine concern. Many minors have access to Twitch accounts and could use these to view unsuitable content. This is not a legal gray area, and Twitch will need to make sure they are protecting their younger users if they are to avoid penalties.
Continuing Confusion, but Some Positive Aspects
It’s not immediately clear what the point of livestream gambling on Twitch is, although some users seem to be enjoying the videos in the same way e-sports fans enjoy watching their favorite teams and players compete in the digital arena. There do appear to be some positive aspects also, despite the controversy. Some problem gamblers, for example, have described bet-free livestreaming experiences as helpful in their recovery.
But issues remain. Online gambling must be conducted according to a strict code of ethics, regulation, and responsibility, and the unregulated environment of Twitch does not support this. The team behind the platform will need to work to ensure that their own rules regarding gambling are upheld, and to protect users who may be vulnerable, such as minors.