Expert warns Twitch gambling ban won’t mark end of Slots hype in streaming

Andrew Amos
Phone with Twitch logo in front of slot machines

Twitch took drastic action to ban certain gambling streams on the platform following recent controversy surrounding Slots broadcasts. However, one expert tells Dexerto the ban won’t mark the end of the gambling hype in streaming as creators look to new platforms.

Twitch has finally put its foot down on Slots streams taking the platform by storm over the last two years.

Following recent controversy with Sliker “scamming” viewers and other streamers out of hundreds of thousands to gamble, the Amazon-owned service is banning luck-based gambling in October.

“While we prohibit sharing links or referral codes to all sites that include slots, roulette, or dice games, we’ve seen some people circumvent those rules and expose our community to potential harm,” the platform said on September 20.

“We’ll be making a policy update on October 18 to 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 consumer protection.”

While it’s arguably the final nail in the coffin for gambling streams on Twitch, it’s not the end of the practice entirely.

Mark Johnson, an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney, has studied Twitch for the last eight years, including the rise of gambling content.

He told Dexerto it’s still early days in terms of how Twitch’s policy will shape up, and it’s “tough to say” exactly where things will go. Without anything concrete locked in until mid-October, it’ll take some time to truly analyze its effects on the streaming space.

There is already a shift though ⁠— content creators are just finding new platforms to promote the practice on.

“The immense success of slots streams on Twitch shows that there is a big market for this, but it’s also a market of people who are already using Twitch and spending time there ⁠— so would moving slots streams to another platform generate the same audience numbers?

“I’ve actually already seen some streamers directing their viewers to YouTube, so maybe this will become the next location. I definitely don’t think this is the final development though. This is just one in a sequence and we’ll have to see what happens next and precisely how, and to what extent, Twitch ‘enforce’ these new rules.”

Twitch slot machine
Twitch has finally banned luck-based gambling, like Slots, on the platform after community outcry.

There was definitely mounting pressure on Twitch to stop the practice well ahead of the Sliker controversy which pushed the narrative over the edge. While Slots and other forms of luck-based gambling thrived, some of the platform’s biggest names were denouncing policies that let it grow unimpeded.

Imane ‘Pokimane’ Anys was the leader of this movement, with the Twitch star voicing her discomfort with gambling streams being promoted numerous times. However, it’s also likely the Amazon-owned service felt forced to act on this one issue in the face of many other controversies.

“Twitch are at least presenting this as a response to a lot of streamer backlash about gambling, but even that has to sit within a much wider contemporary context of streamer backlash and resentment about a number of ongoing Twitch issues and problems,” Johnson continued.

“There’s a lot of stuff on Twitch at the moment ⁠— unequal enforcement of rules, adult content, harassment ⁠— a lot of people are critiquing, and this has to be seen within the context of Twitch’s ‘shine’ generally declining in the last couple of years.

“Maybe Twitch therefore saw this as a way to appear to be responsive to their users ⁠— especially in the outcry after the revelations about the gambling stream scam in recent days.”

There are also the challenges of navigating a relatively unregulated space and trying to make the rules. The rise of crypto casinos in the last 18 months took everyone by surprise, and before its impacts were truly known Twitch was suddenly the host for the majority of promotion.

Websites like Stake and Roobet found ways to crack the market with mega collaborations, such as Stake’s mega Twitch stream with Drake pulling more than 100,000 peak viewers. Even on a smaller scale, crypto casinos were offering streamers millions of dollars a month to gamble live in front of their viewers, all while offering codes to lure potential gamblers in.

Trainwreck on stream
Tyler ‘Trainwreck’ Niknam, Twitch’s biggest Slots streamer, will have to find a new home or a new content route due to the gambling ban.

This poses a legal and moral dilemma for Twitch; one that doesn’t really get answered with this initial gambling ban but could depending on where things go from here.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there was indeed concern internally at the company about potential legal concerns and some of these massive sponsorships these streamers were getting,” Johnson said.

“Gambling streaming was, and pretty much still is, a very unregulated and unmonitored area, and I think this is a move by Twitch towards greater caution, and trying to ‘head off’ any potential larger problems down the line.”

The one party likely to not be hurt at the end of all of this though is the crypto casinos, and that likely means the Slots hype will continue on different streaming services.

“These websites [like Stake and Roobet] might have had a potentially major future source of revenue and interest cut off, however, as these channels were only growing and getting larger and larger in terms of interest, I don’t think their bottom lines will get changed too much.

“That said, though, we have yet to see precisely what the details of this policy change are, how Twitch will enforce it, and whether these initial slot streams have given people enough of a ‘taste’ for the content we’ll then see these shifting onto other platforms instead.”

About The Author

Hailing from Perth, Andrew was formerly Dexerto's Australian Managing Editor. They love telling stories across all games and esports, but they have a soft spot for League of Legends and Rainbow Six. Oh, and they're also fascinated by the rise of VTubers.