When readers of a certain vintage hear the word twitch, that’s exactly what they do when considering the sheer breadth and depth of social media these days.
Twitch is, for certain niches, the most popular social networking platform around, with around 30 million active users every single day.
It has gained particular notoriety within the gaming community, enabling influencers and gamers to monetise their video streams in a number of different ways.
But those that promote gambling to bring home the bacon are in for something of a shock, after Twitch chiefs confirmed they were introducing a partial ban on such content – with bookmakers, betting sites and casinos that are unlicensed in the United States likely to be the worst hit.
All Most Bets Are Off
Twitch rules indicate that streamers can promote sports betting, online poker and daily fantasy gaming in their content.
But as of October, the platform will strictly prohibit streams that feature slots, roulette and dice games offered by gambling firms that are either a) unlicensed in the US or b) based in a country that fails to provide ‘sufficient consumer protection’.
An update on gambling on Twitch. pic.twitter.com/lckNTY9Edo
— Twitch (@Twitch) September 20, 2022
That, it goes without saying, appears to be a clear attempt to disengage users from sites that are based in unregulated and occasionally unreliable jurisdictions, such as Curacao.
Named specifically on Twitch’s prohibited list is Stake.com, the under-fire betting firm headquartered on the Caribbean island. They made headlines when Everton, the Premier League football club they sponsor, refused to allow them to use its branding over a promotional debacle that saw the firm offer punters free bets if they wagered a minimum of $5,000 in the prior seven days.
The ban might not sound like a big deal on paper, but online slots is the tenth most popular type of stream under the banner of ‘gaming’ on Twitch – these videos get more viewers than those involving globally-beloved titles like Minecraft.
Such streams can be big business too, with one prominent gambling ‘Twitcher’ – Tyler ‘Trainwreckstv’ Niknam – claiming that he is paid $1 million (around £880,000) by one unnamed betting firm to wager at their site and promote their products.
He’s not the only one. Matthew ‘Mizkif’ Rinaudo, a prominent figure on Twitch, revealed he was offered $35,000 per hour – yes, you read that correctly – to gamble on specific sites, and that was double what he would earn from more traditional gaming videos.
And Adin Ross was allegedly offered as much as $1.5 million a month to stream himself playing specific slots by gambling outfit Duelbits.
A Bold New World
For punters that like a few pennies each way on the horses of a Saturday, this new world of streams and paid-for content must seem like a truly alien concept.
But some Twitch streamers are now millionaires thanks to their endeavours on the video sharing platform, and the amounts of money they are wagering can best be described as eye watering.
Felix Lengyel, better known to his followers as xQc, is one of the most prolific punters on Twitch. He started out life as an esports gamer, turning professional to play games like Overwatch for some of the top teams in North America.
But as his Twitch feed grew in popularity, so too did the commercial possibilities that arose from it. Lengyel was once the most-watched streamer on the platform, and raked in an estimated $4 million a year.
To older generations, it’s a strange but clearly lucrative way of making money, and xQc is raking it in after sending an estimated $119 million in revenue to Stake.com thanks to his followers signing up for accounts.
Stake, who also boast rapper Drake as a brand ambassador who is also no stranger to wagering huge sums of their money, is a bookmaking firm and casino that allows users to splash their cryptocurrency holdings instead of actual money – hence their popularity with a particular demographic.
They are not licensed to operate in the United States, and yet Drake, xQc and others have streamed Stake.com centred content via a VPN connection.
It’s a murky situation made all the more muddy by the fact that xQc has, if you can believe this, wagered more than $685 million during the course of his streams – suggesting, you would think, that gambling operators are essentially giving him ‘free money’ to bet with….with no requirement to pay it back.
It’s a far cry from Bangor races on a cold Monday afternoon in front of one man and his dog….