Booze, Grass or Twitch, Nobody Surfs for Free, Amazon Ditches Riders Mid-stream

Stung by a steady stream of criticism over illicit betting and accusations of corrupting young minds, Amazon, owners of Twitch, have decided to clean up their controversial streaming platform by banning inter-action and inter-play with unregulated casino websites.

The embargo kicks-in later this mid-month – and for many critics of Twitch’s laissez-faire safeguards it can’t come a day too soon.

It follows an August 2021 decision by Amazon, which banned the sharing of links or referral codes to promote slots or casino games on the streaming site.

In perhaps the understatement of the year, an official voice at Amazon charged: “Some people circumvent the rules and expose our community to potential harm.”

Rampant and cynical exploitation of “celebrity” or “influencer” culture has bedevilled not just Twitch but wider social media for some time now.

Just where does perfectly acceptable fandom begin, and gross exploitation of the vulnerable end?

In this case space cowboy Jeff Bezos, the shiny domed brain and billionaire owner of Amazon, seems to have the betting industry firmly in his Twitch-er sights; perhaps as easier target or sacrificial goat.

Because there can be no doubt that many gaming entities–often with a certain Curaçao in common—have made a royal killing by sponsoring ambitious B- and C-listers to play games of chance online, where they are watched by—and inevitably influence—millions.

It is a controversial, yet undoubtedly lucrative, revenue stream for some sectors of our betting business.

Indeed–because of technological progression, and the wide ambit of immersive social possibilities–live digital streaming could be the very future of the gambling industry.

Imagine a casino floor, peopled with friends and celebrities of your choice, some real, some augmented, others real, working the slots, playing poker, all transactions in crypto; the permutations are endless.

Reality Check

Crashing back to reality, Twitch has now stressed that, as of October 18, it will “prohibit streaming of gambling sites that include slots, roulette or dice games that aren’t licensed either in the US or other jurisdictions that provide sufficient customer protection”.

With bated breath streamers await further notice on exactly which sites will be banned.

Yet, as the old saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining and this ad hoc intervention by third-party Twitch may be a wonderful opportunity for the wider iGaming industry to seize control of its own narrative and build its own dedicated streaming service.

Whether it will have the cachet of Twitch or YouTube Live, who host millions of live streamers and who have tens of millions of daily viewers, remains to be seen.

But what’s essential, to ensure success and sustainability, is that it is a proper safe and responsible gambling space.

Currently, Twitch is the most popular streaming site. It hosts around 150 channels offering live broadcasts of real-money slots machine gambling, for example.

Some channels regularly receive over 100,000 views.

Meantime, representatives of Chris Scicluna and Robin Reed, respective CEOs of Livespins and HappyHour, have contacted iGF and intimated that the streaming leaders are willing to talk about how the Twitch decision will impact the future of iGaming, but only once the cards have settled.

Torrent of Abuse

Streaming of live casino action surged in 2018, but it took the Covid19 pandemic to supercharge this trickle-turned-torrent of the iGaming industry.

Throughout; streaming of gambling action has been dogged by controversy, with accusations of inflated viewer figures, failure to disclose affiliations, manipulation by bots and breaching of responsible gambling protocols, particularly age-gating, amongst a fistful of other sins.

Social activists Change.org have recently called for advertisers to demand that all gambling-related activity on Twitch be outlawed — and League of Legends streaming heavy-hitter Sykkuno has attacked the so-called “gambling meta” on the site.

To date, hip-hop superstar Drake has been the biggest name to enter, and endorse, Twitch’s casino streaming space in a deal with Stake.com.

But the days of a billion dollar gaming win-win in the Twitch demi-monde now look long gone, to be replaced by an unenviable choice of sink or quack-off.

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