Twitch Bans Gambling Affiliate Links Amidst Widespread Protest

3 Sep 2021

Twitch Bans Gambling Affiliate Links Amidst Widespread Protest

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In what appears to be a dramatic turn of events, Twitch – one of the world’s leading live streaming platforms –  has announced that it will ban all affiliate links and referral codes linked to slots, roulette, and dice games. The move came after a furore in the gaming community regarding the unethical nature of many gambling sites promoted at Twitch.

Twitch announced a Creator’s Update on August 11, 2021, mentioning the ban of all links redirecting users to gambling websites. This stoppage came into effect on August 17, 2021. 

Twitch’s Response Against the Action

The ban by Twitch is a response to questionable gambling operators who might create harm and scams for end users. 

Speaking in favour of this statement, the company stated: “To prevent harm and scams created by questionable gambling services that sponsor content on Twitch, we will prohibit sharing links and 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.”

In a conversation with Inven Globals, Twitch clarified that creators can still have gambling affiliate links as long as they do not advertise on their Twitch channel.

Effect on the Younger Audience 

There was an ongoing discourse among some of Twitch’s popular streamers like xQc, H3H3, Adin Ross, Trainwreck, and Pokimane, who raised concerns about these affiliate links and their impact, especially on the younger audience.

This video streaming platform attracts students and young adults. Thus, promoting gambling activities can harm them. 

It is unclear whether the links and referral codes are being promoted by operators or the streamers themselves. But the impact, nonetheless, remains unsettling. Twitch has responded to these concerns on a positive note and called for a ban.   

Where Did It All Begin?

The streamers voiced their concern regarding the shady nature of gambling activities and the ethical stance these operators take. Thorough scrutiny on Twitch was also proposed with its connection to these sponsors. 

In a three-hour-long debate with TrainWrecks and xQc, Ethan (H3H3) briefed about his own experience with some of these dubious casinos when he was young. Ethan went as far as doing some live research of Stake.com.

Like Ethan, streamer Pokimane (Imane Anys) criticised Twitch partners who take casino sponsorship offers. According to her, getting a sponsorship offer from these casinos proves they’re millionaires. Therefore, the platform does not need to stoop down its ethics to be more resourceful. Pokimane’s comment, “You need to be a multi-multi-millionaire,” resonated with this point. In conclusion, she added that big-time streamers could do more to help spread the word concerning the drawbacks of gambling.

In July’s Wire Article, gaming journalist Cecilia D’Anastasio pointed out that many streamers bypass US gambling regulations via VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to take gambling sponsorship from companies like Stake.com that cannot operate legally.  

While Twitch allows streamers to stream gambling games, gambling must be legal in that jurisdiction. However, Stake.com turning in streamers from a state where it is not legal violates the law. This action amounts to promoting illegal gambling by both Stake.com and the streamer.

What Does This Ban Imply? 

With the ban in effect since August 17, its direct impact would be manifested in live streaming gambling games. This is because around 6% of Twitch’s top 1,000 creators had streamed these games in times past.

Among the famous names, xQc ranks high. However, the streamer issued an apology for his past actions and quit gambling streams earlier this summer.

NCPG’s Response

The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) responded optimistically to Twitch’s decision to ban gambling affiliate links. Keith Whyte, the NCPG’s Executive Director, welcomed the move by Twitch officials. However, he thinks that more needs to be done than just blocking the website. 

According to him, “Twitch has taken a good first step to help protect young and vulnerable users by preventing the sharing of links to gambling websites. However, much more must be done.”

He further added: “Everybody should be concerned that Twitch still allows the broadcast of unregulated and illegal gambling and that sites like Stake and Roobet pay popular streamers to play the casino games on their channels. It is incumbent on Twitch to focus on the health of their users, especially young people who are susceptible to developing a gambling addiction thanks to what they are exposed to in the streaming platform.”

Will the Ban Create an Impact?  

The effect of Twitch banning gambling affiliate links and referral codes will likely see a considerable drop in the number of streams promoting gambling in this manner. However, things seem a bit more complicated. 

Casino operators often sponsor streamers to share these links and referral codes on their streaming channels. If the streamers do not get enough funds, they might not go for streaming at all, at least not on Twitch. Regardless, there are different ways these gambling sites can be promoted. 

Many creators have demanded that gambling be banned altogether, but Twitch has not gone for that approach yet. It seems that Twitch will allow gambling streams as long as they do not breach any legal guidelines.  

Presently, the ban looks a positive first step, and Twitch seems to acknowledge that more needs to be done as the company stated that they would “continue to monitor gambling-related content and update our approach as needed.” So, in the coming times, we might see Twitch taking more stringent steps to keep the platform safe from shady gambling sites.