Twitch has announced a new rule for streamers that prohibits the sharing of links or referral codes to sites that offer real-money slots, roulette, or dice games. The company says this will protect its viewers from “harm and scams.” Another cool thing Twitch could do to stop the glorification of compulsive gambling? Ban gambling streams altogether.
As Twitch expert Nathan Grayson wrote back in June, scoring a gambling sponsorship on the streaming service means big money for the streamer. Online gambling companies like Frank Casino, Duelbits, or Stake will often pay popular streamers huge sums of money to sit around on camera playing virtual gambling machines. One of the ways the online casinos make money from this practice is by referrals, special codes or links that offer some sort of cash bonus, free games, or other incentives to new players.
Twitch’s latest creator update aims to put an end to these incentives. Streamers like Roshtein (above), who as of this writing is currently playing video slots in front of more than 25,000 viewers, have until August 17 to strip the codes from their streams. As Twitch wrote:
To prevent harm and scams created by questionable gambling services that sponsor content on Twitch, we will prohibit sharing links and/or referral codes to sites that offer slots, roulette, or dice games. We will continue to monitor gambling-related content and update our approach as needed. To give you time to remove this content from your channel, enforcement will be delayed until August 17, 2021.
The roulette streamers I’ve viewed today in researching this don’t seem all that concerned about the new guidelines. Roshtein, asked by a viewer what he thought about Twitch banning gambling links and referral codes, said, “It’s great.” And in a tweet addressing the new guidelines he said, “Could be going into the right direction, excited about where this goes!”
Though the new Twitch guidelines do indeed seem like a move in the right direction, they don’t actually do much. Some gambling streamers do make a lot of money off of referrals, yes, but they have other ways they can distribute those lucrative links if Twitch starts cracking down.
And it’s not just about the referrals. Gambling sites sponsor streamers. In some cases they provide the funds Twitch streamers gamble with. Others have been offered large monthly salaries to keep the dice rolling. Why would gambling sites invest so much money in gambling streams if they didn’t result in a steady stream of new players?
As much as many gambling streamers like to tell viewers not to gamble—or just to watch them gamble, instead—there’s obviously an element of encouragement to this streaming entertainment, and one that could cause real-life harm. These streamers flash huge winnings in front of viewers whose lives could be seriously affected by the loss of a couple hundred dollars, if not less.
Twitch’s new gambling guidelines at least say the company will “continue to monitor gambling-related content and update our approach as needed,” so the company could still adopt more stringent—and arguably more protective—rules concerning streamed gambling in the future.