Fake money streaming poses a real threat to the casino streaming community, putting it at risk of being closed down whilst also bringing harm to an industry that’s been struggling to prove to regulators it’s making progress in terms of responsible gambling. Phil Pearson wants to do something about it and has thus launched a project called Verified Streamer. We’ve spoken to Phil about it and it’s a conversation you don’t want to miss!
Bigwinboard: Hi Phil, thanks for talking to us. We’re super interested to learn more about your new project Verifiedstreamer.com but first, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
Phil Pearson: Sure. Firstly thanks for asking me to chat to you. I’m a fan of your work and think you’re almost as honest as me when it comes to reviewing a game, not afraid to say something sucks at times!
About me, I am originally from Wales but have lived around the UK since 2006. I was a world-class cocktail barman for many years, then had a career change into sales and then poker. I did that for many years then randomly a friend said about moving to Malta for a job in iGaming. As a poker player and admittedly online casino fan, I looked into it and just… moved one day and started looking for a job. I’ve been in gaming for 4 years now, all working with iGamingGroup. I started as Head of Sales & Account Management, moved up to managing the White Label Business Unit, and now am COO for the group.
I guess I made a ”name” for myself with some LinkedIn shenanigans, some tongue in cheek sarcasm, and at one point calling for regulators to do more to protect players. People think its some kind of marketing act, which is fine, but actually the only goal of speaking up at times is because no one else does. Which kind of led organically in a few conversations to this project.
“There is 0% chance these sites are paying out these sums of money or risking their entire operation and the company and staff on it. It’s similar to going to war and deciding you just need to wear a speedo and carry a small banana.”
BWB: Today we’re going to talk about a topic that I have a lot of personal experience with. I actually started out as a casino streamer back in 2016 when almost nobody knew about it and there weren’t all that many viewers around. It didn’t take long, however, before the bad affiliates started appearing, doing fake money streams and view botting, so that has more or less always been around. Now, of course, it’s nothing like it used to be. It’s big business now, streamers backed by big affiliate companies and getting lucrative sponsorship deals with both casinos and game providers.
Back then the problem spelt Multilotto, today it’s crypto casinos such as Stake and Gamdom that sponsor the fake streamers with all sorts of ridiculous deals that doesn’t require the streamer to actually take any financial risks whatsoever. I eventually grew bored of the streaming scene and decided to start Bigwinboard instead. I still have to deal with bad affiliates who rip off our content and copy us – it’s a big industry problem and always has been. Although I’ve stopped streaming, I still try to do what I can to bring awareness to what’s going on. We’re an independent website, so nothing is really holding us back from speaking freely about it.
We’ve actually received many requests from community members and industry people to do some sort of accreditation list for casino streamers, but you beat us to it. Your project looks far more advanced and professional than anything we thought of setting up, though. Sorry for rambling, and to get to the point, what is your experience with casino streaming, fake money streamers, and shady competitors? What made you take this step?
Phil: At the start of lockdown, I spent a lot of my evenings on Twitch. I watched a few streamers who played for smaller stakes and ended up in a wormhole of Twitch watching live streams of Ducks and playing a marble racing game. It was a dark time! I then started streaming for a couple of months myself, mainly due to boredom of not being able to leave the house, and not wanting to. I lost about 9k in 2 months, playing no higher than £2 stakes (and I deposited live on stream with a bank card, no one stole my details, so that argument is a lie). I worked out how many signups I would need to cover that, and the average signup per viewer based on affiliate platforms I have seen. Something seemed wrong with how this could be profitable, so I did some checking and a lot of the numbers just don’t add up. Sure, some streamers get casino bonuses, which helps, and some get deals from game providers to play their games. I saw streamers playing on Videoslots, Unibet, BetVictor, legitimate sites, for low stakes, and pushing affiliate deals at those sites from time to time. Even Casumo was offering streamer bonuses back then when it was a ”friendly” casino.
Then you simply compare that to those playing on a casino no one has heard of, pushing promotions, and playing on that site with a balance of 6 figures. If you check the history or company size of that casino, you get so many red flags that Formula 1 would cry. A small casino cannot have the liability of someone with a 6 or 7 figure balance on its books. If a casino has 1 million in deposits from players, they will end up at the end of the month, assuming 50% is cashed out, and 40-45% of the rest is spent on affiliate payments and fees etc, of a small profit. How can a casino that’s so small take this large action? They can’t. New casinos without huge backing impose withdrawal limits for this reason. New casinos start small and add streamers on max cashout bonuses. They even control how many players come through certain affiliate links. There is 0% chance these sites are paying out these sums of money or risking their entire operation and the company and staff on it. It’s similar to going to war and deciding you just need to wear a speedo and carry a small banana. So I started campaigning a bit and that led to discussions which led to right now!
BWB: Where do you personally draw the line for fake money streaming? It’s heavily debated. The purists will say that even receiving endless deposit bonuses is fake gambling and that it doesn’t really require streamers to take much of a monetary risk.
Phil: The problem here is the line is blurred. To me, giving a streamer deposit bonuses is fine, as long as they are bonuses a normal player would receive. Giving a streamer a 100% bonus of up to £1,000 for example – there are many deposit offers like that around right now. Creating a streamer bonus campaign I would say is also fine; a lot of casinos offer streamers 2 or 3 bonuses per week or a set amount per month. As the casinos are covering the cost not only of the bonus given, but the operator and method fees on top of that, and platform fees if they are a White Label or using another platform, this money adds up fast.
The most pure example of real money is a UK streamer most people know; The Bandit. He shows his banks statements online, he deposits with VISA, he doesn’t hide his casino back office or history, and he doesn’t take bonuses. He is the pure gold standard in casino content in my opinion. Compare that to Roshtein or Ayzee or someone, who claims to get 1000% bonuses on a 10k deposit… and you can easily see why this story starts to fall apart in places.
“Waiting for some of those excuses as to why they will say no is going to be the highlight of my year!”
BWB: Absolutely agree with you on that Phil. You’re a well-known guy in the industry with loads of credibility. You’re also known to speak your mind, so we really couldn’t think of a better person to do run a project like this. Do you believe that Verified Streamer has a real chance of making a difference? The fake streamers have grown pretty big with backing from Stake and Gamdom. There are even big gamers like TrainwrecksTV and xQc doing it. We’ve given up on Twitch to do anything about it since they don’t even acknowledge the problem, and regulators are completely toothless.
Phil: I think if we get enough streamers and don’t hide anything we have a good chance. When we verify we are basically doing a fancy Source Of Wealth check, we verify the casino account, back office, bank or wallet account, source of income, and we go back as far as we need to be satisfied. I think the level of discussion we have per streamer and the fact we use fully KYC/AML trained staff, alongside having an automatic system called Jumio, puts any doubt aside as to the legitimacy of what we are trying to accomplish. If we can verify some of the big names over the next 2 months, and have our badges and following increase, then naturally questions will be asked of the streamers who will say no. Waiting for some of those excuses as to why they will say no is going to be the highlight of my year!
BWB: What stops a streamer from receiving flat fee to their bank or Skrill account and then use it to deposit? Won’t that just look like ”real” money?
Phil: We would see it. As we request historical account history, we can see if things match up. A payment of 5k from an ”affiliate” for example would cause a flag. We check what the affiliate or company is. Who owns it. We correlate that to 5 x 1k deposits? We have an easy alert there for fake funds or funded accounts. As we have a history in casino platform and also have processed affiliate payments, we know what we can ask for. If a streamer is real we can simply ask for a snapshot of his affiliate account which will match up with the payments he, she, or they, have received.
BWB: We all know what will happen if this takes off. The fake streamers will just come up with some ridiculous claims that VerifiedStreamer is run by competitors and that they don’t trust the site, etc. Are you prepared for this? Although their viewer base is not as big as it may appear to be due to the view botting and other shady marketing strategies, they do tend to have some loyal members (yes, it’s sad) that will spend time trolling those who criticise their idols on social media.
Phil: I cant wait for this! As you know all too well, I love a good social media battle. We have purposefully not set up ourselves with any affiliate links or sponsorship to remove the ”competitor” tag. We won’t have a forum. We won’t promote anyone or accept any form of ID beyond what is acceptable for the checks. I have an answer for most arguments we will get, but, being blunt, anyone who tries that route is just bullshitting. There is no benefit to us verifying someone who would fail. We don’t charge enough money to ever make a profit, so we aren’t in it for the money. We don’t need affiliate contacts as we don’t run any casinos. I am COO of a technology company and I’ve offered a large number of people in gaming either an advisory status or the ability to help the project if they wish.
“The reputation of your site amongst the industry is huge. Slot providers actually try and build games that you will rank well, and post the scoring on their media and marketing campaigns.”
BWB: Do you see Bigwinboard being part of this project somehow? We’d be happy to help if we can.
Phil: Of course! The reputation of your site amongst the industry is huge. Slot providers actually try and build games that you will rank well, and post the scoring on their media and marketing campaigns. That’s a level of trust that we don’t have yet sadly, mainly because I spend a small portion of my time upsetting people 😀 Having some guidance at times from yourselves, some exposure, some feedback, and some advice would help this move a long way I believe.
BWB: Alright, sounds good Phil. I know many of the streamers personally and there is a lot of interest in your project. Which ones are on board so far?
Phil: Well so far we are verifying a few of the big UK streamers. As this is the beta month for the site we will only verify 4 or 5 streamers this month, including The Bandit, Chipmonkz, I’m talking to GamblersDen and Rocknrolaaaaa this week, and Spintwix is also currently verifying. The CasinoGrounds guys mentioned us kindly at the CasinoBeats Summit, so I am talking to them also about their streamers. The big streamers we can usually tell if it’s real or not, so while the focus for the first couple of months will be getting the ”big names” live, this is done just to mean that we have the exposure and validity to then verify small streamers, the ones who talk to their chat, the ones who can push fake sites to people one on one, and the ones who maybe need the money more than the bigger viewer streamers.
BWB: Thanks a lot for speaking to us Phil, it was great! I wish you the best of luck and really hope you can manage to clean up the streaming community – it’s long overdue!
Phil: Absolutely, any time I am happy to talk to you about anything. I can’t wait for you to help us out and keep up the great work on the slot side of things, just score some more people 3/10 if the game is terrible please, We need some more drama at times!