in Gaming

Twitch’s crypto gambling boom brings in viewers, controversy

Twitch at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, tags: crypto gambling - CC BY-SA

Crypto gambling streams have blown up on Twitch in the past few months, being the seventh most popular content type, ahead of popular games such as Fortnite.

As the industry gets more eyes on it, the sector is seeing more interest and controversy due to a large portion of Twitch’s audience being younger and more susceptible to gambling.

Regarding the recent gambling boom on the platform, a spokesperson from Twitch said, “We take any potential harm to our community extremely seriously. While gambling content represents a very small fraction of the content streamed on Twitch, we monitor it closely to ensure our approach mitigates potential harm to our global community.”

The platform further explained that resources to support those with a gambling addiction are available on the Twitch Safety Center. It is also investigating gambling behavior on its platform and has banned sharing links or promotional codes in response to scams associated with gambling sites.

Crypto gambling is illegal in the United States, which is why these companies often operate in places such as Europe and Canada. Stake, one of the biggest companies sponsoring large streamers to promote its product, operates under a gaming license from Curacao.

Players who are region blocked can use virtual private networks to disguise their location and access these services. In response to the criticism, Stake has said it has implemented a process to prevent people from accessing its services using VPNs and has measures to address “risk gambling behavior”.

Streamers and non-streamers alike

Felix “xQc” Lengyel, is one of the largest Twitch streamers who has been sponsored by Stake. With over 10 million followers, he is a major figure behind the popularity of crypto gambling. His gambling streams in July had over 70,000 viewers watching him crypto gambling with big stakes, Lengyel losing over $150,000 in just over two minutes at one point.

The streamer has described himself as addicted. During a live stream, Lengyel said, “I go out of the way to tell you not to do it. I do it because I can afford it, and I enjoy it, and I think it’s content.”

Besides streamers, Stake also partnered with the rapper Drake to use its services. Drake started with a balance of $9 million and placed large bets of up to $1 million to an audience of over 50,000 viewers.

These partnerships and sponsorships have been very successful at pulling in players to the Stake platform, especially since 75 percent of Twitch’s user base is 16-34.

According to the National Center for Responsible Gaming, six to nine percent of young people struggle with gambling problems compared to just one percent of adults — a fact worrying those monitoring Twitch’s gambling boom.

Matthew “Mizkif” Rinaudo, a popular World of Warcraft streamer, has been offered $19 million per year to showcase crypto gambling live. Rinuado used to gamble and promote gambling sites. However, he has changed his stance on the topic after seeing a 14-year-old fan gambling on a site he promoted.

The OTK member now believes Twitch should step up and not provide a platform to crypto gambling sites as streamers will continue to promote the content as long as the sponsorships keep coming.