Twitch video streaming company is currently in discussions with the UK regulator over illegal casino sites being streamed by its users.
Twitch is the main streaming site in today’s space and it is largely reserved for video gaming. However, it has become increasingly popular for streamers to show themselves playing at online casino and poker sites.
Two casino online platforms in particular have been flagged after they appeared in a prominent position on the Twitch platform. Neither of these sites has the necessary license from the the UK Gambling Commission, which is currently investigating the matter.
Emergence of Twitch
Twitch is a platform for live streaming video that has been around since 2011. It is growing significantly year on year. As of February 2014, it was accounting for the fourth highest levels of peak traffic on the internet in the United States.
Shortly after that, it was acquired by Amazon for $970m. There are now more than 2.2m people broadcasting on the platform each month, and around 15m viewers using the platform on a daily basis.
Twitch is turning its video gamers into superstars. One of its most popular streamers is Ninja, who streams popular video games such as Fortnite. He has entered into the mainstream, having played live on stream with rapper Drake, appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, became the first video gamer to appear on the cover of ESPN Magazine and is earning millions of dollars each month.
With so many viewers on this platform, it was inevitable that streamers would start showcasing their online casino and poker gameplay. This has become very popular, with many streamers receiving large concurrent audiences for these streams.
While streamers like Ninja have not had to face any issues from the UKGC, a couple of prominent streamers’ activities have caught the regulator’s attention.
Prominent streamers have been advertising a couple of gambling sites that are not under license in the UK. This is illegal and usually the commission blocks these websites from being accessible to people in the UK.
On its current discussions with Twitch, the UKGC said: “We are currently working with Twitch to prevent unlicensed sites being advertised on its platform.”
Twitch’s terms of service are open to interpretation on this issue. Currently, the terms say nothing along the lines that it prohibits gambling streams. However, it forbids those activities that are for an illegal purpose or violate “any local, state, national, or international law or regulation”.
So it appears that the UKGC is within its rights to contact Twitch and stop the streaming of illegal sites from occurring.
The issue from Twitch’s perspective is that people viewing these streams are located globally.
However, the same rules may not apply in Twitch’s home location region for the advertising of these sites. It is impossible to exclude a certain audience from watching a stream, such as banning UK viewers in this case.
It appears that the rules could fall according to where the streamers themselves are located. Thus, if they are in the UK, they would not be permitted to stream gameplay or ads from sites that do not have a license there.
Twitch is big business
As well as the streamers and Twitch making big money off of these video streams, it is also an effective channel for companies to advertise their goods and services to targeted audiences.
If thousands of people are watching a live stream of someone playing online poker, then it makes sense to advertise through this person as it is such a concentrated location for their target market.
These advertisements could come through playing on their site for a certain amount of time or simply running ads from time to time during their stream.
This is a new form of influencer marketing that is only going to become more and more popular. It is a great way for players to make money with little downside if they stream their gameplay.
As this idea grows, more people will be jumping on the bandwagon and opening up a new can of worms for regulators.