Bigwinboard meets up with Pragmatic Play to talk casino streamers and the criticism they’ve faced
When we published our article on the topic of fake money streamers back in March 2021, it garnered a lot of attention, while also sparking fiery debate around the web on various gambling forums. In the article, criticism was aimed at game providers in general and Pragmatic Play in particular, turning many readers and players against them. Ultimately, the point of the article was to put pressure on the industry and hold them accountable for what we perceived to be a lack of responsibility. Still today, with so much talk about responsible gambling, the term “responsible” simply does not exist on Twitch.
The reason Pragmatic Play was singled out in the article was due to the fact that their games were, and still are, heavily favoured by the fake casino streamers. As the Youtube algorithm began to work to the advantage of these streamers, literally spamming the front page with fake streamers trying to one-up each other with one ridiculous Pragmatic Play bonus hunt after another, the ties to Pragmatic Play seemed more than likely – even more so when they choose to use one of the most well-known fraudsters in one of their Facebook ads (which was retracted following our criticism).
As time has shown, however, it’s not only Pragmatic Play that is being favoured. Other providers such as Nolimit City and Push Gaming do receive some heavy rotation as well. At first, it was assumed that said streamers were being sponsored by the game providers, but today it has become more apparent that it is a particular group of crypto casinos that are the actual problem. Roobet, Stake, and Gamdom, have all been accused of systematically funding streamers with fake balances to such a degree that it’s become a Twitch farse.
Rather than trying to run away from the problem and silence the debate with threats, as we’ve seen with C-grade studios like GameArt, Pragmatic Play has stepped up to face the criticism. Therefore, we have decided to give Pragmatic Play the opportunity to give their side of the story and allow them the chance to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the whole casino streamer situation.
Bigwinboard remains firmly wedded to the view that game providers need to take a higher degree of responsibility, rather than just stick their heads in the sand or adopt the “any publicity is good publicity” stance. Still, we are thankful for Pragmatic Play’s decision to engage in the debate, so let’s hear it directly from them.
Pragmatic Play: Frequently asked questions
Hi, my name is Daniel Hansen, and I am an enthusiastic gambler and slots player. I’ve been extremely interested in slots even way before I got into the gaming industry. I have been working in the industry for about eight years now, I’ve spent the first five of them working for Videoslots and now three of them working for Pragmatic Play. I have been an active member on forums, with some breaks, for around 7 years.
When the opportunity to join Pragmatic Play arose, I decided to jump at the chance to join their team. I’ve always been curious what it would be like to work with a leading game provider in comparison to the casino side of the industry. I love working at Pragmatic Play as the team is very motivated and it’s clear to see that the people here love what they are doing and are very passionate about it.
I have over 1,000 colleagues worldwide, on different continents around the globe, which makes the company very multi-cultural and which I personally really appreciate. I am learning a lot from this. I feel blessed to work in an industry I am personally passionate about. The company is multi-product and because of that I continuously face new challenges, which also keeps things exciting, there is always something new happening.
I have recently taken on the role of Head of B2C Marketing. An important part of my responsibility in this role will include providing feedback on our slots to the teams that develop them while also managing and answering all your questions regarding Pragmatic Play and the overall industry of slots.
With that said, I have faith that with this combined knowledge, I will be able to answer most of your questions and provide a great deal of transparency in an industry where most of the time, it’s hard to understand how things work. There have been questions about how things work with casino streamers and I would like to take the opportunity to answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
Q: Does Pragmatic Play know if a Streamer is playing with fake money?
The first thing to know is that Pragmatic Play doesn’t see the difference between a player and a casino streamer. We are aware that Casino’s use different internal tags for players, such as “VIP Player”, “KYC Validated”, “Streamer Account”, etc. However, this tagging is not something the casinos share with us. Furthermore, Pragmatic Play does not know if a player (or streamer) is playing with real money or not, this information is not shared with us by the casinos either.
In more detail, we use an API to let casinos communicate with our servers. An API is an information gateway that allows Pragmatic Play and a casino to communicate with each other and share certain information. Every time you hit “spin” on one of our slots, we send a request to the casino via our API, and the casino replies informing us if the available account balance is sufficient to process the request. If the casino responds positively, the player can initiate the spin. If the casino responds negatively, the player gets an “insufficient balance” message. After the spin is completed, Pragmatic Play communicates the result of the spin back to the casino, and the casino updates the player’s balance.
In all this process, Pragmatic Play sees every player (or streamer) as a number only. We don’t receive and don’t need to receive, any personal information about the player to complete the request, including if the player is a streamer or not, or how the player obtained the money he or she is playing with. We do ask for some additional basic information required to complete the request, such as language and currency, to make sure the player will see the game in the desired language and currency, but that’s pretty much it.
When it comes to sharing information, we operate on a “need to know” basis only. This is pretty much the industry standard between game providers and casinos. GDPR regulations have enforced this policy even more. Receiving any personal information about a player (or streamer) would generate additional costs and responsibility for us and would result in extra regulatory requirements and the need for mandatory user consent. All that said, the casinos would never share any unnecessary information with anyone, including us, as that does not follow their business interests. The bottom line is that we can’t see the difference between a player and a streamer in our system and we can’t see the deposit methods used by the player and if these deposits are real or not.
Q: Does Pragmatic Play give test accounts to Streamers?
Regarding test accounts, I want to emphasise that player (or streamer) accounts are always with the individual casinos and never with Pragmatic Play. Our software does not support holding player accounts nor are we allowed to hold player accounts under our licenses. We are only authorised to produce games, we are not authorised to hold player information or process/manage player money. With that in mind, Pragmatic Play simply can’t give a streamer a test account, because Pragmatic Play can’t provide accounts to anyone.
Q: Do we pay Streamers to promote our games?
Pragmatic Play was one of the early supporters of casino streamers. We look at streamers as a great way to promote our games and get more exposure, just like any other company that chose to support streamers.
So, what have we done to support streamers? Firstly, we have sponsored prizes for tournaments and events organised by streamers. This form of support is something we highly favour because the prizes, either cash or merchandise, go directly to their viewers. Secondly, we have provided some financial assistance to relatively new streamers. This would usually be amounts of up to 1,000 euro a month, just to help the new streamers cover expenses until they would be on their feet. Third, we have assisted streamers by providing merchandise for their stores, again knowing this merchandise will eventually be rewarded to the viewers.
What are we doing right now to support streamers? For the last 12 months already, we have significantly reduced the supporting activities for streamers, mainly because the streamer business has grown and matured a lot, many more casinos are involved now as well which means streamers don’t really need our support anymore.
Q: How can the streamers get such big wins? Does Pragmatic Play pay for such big wins?
In general, streamers play for hours and hours, so it’s only logical that they will also get big wins. In addition, our bonus buy features increase the volatility a lot, and therefore the chances of hitting big multiplier wins is much higher. If you play mostly bonus buy features; you will see a lot of big wins. But, this will also cost much more since your average total bet is a lot higher. Players should keep this in mind and decide the right strategy that’s most suitable for them. Streamers generally prefer big wins as it creates a great amount of action and thrill. That is why streamers like playing games with the highest volatility and using the bonus buy features because it helps them increase the volatility to create more excitement.
Does it cost Pragmatic Play money if a streamer wins big? Well, yes and no. As mentioned above, the casino takes all the risk for wins and losses. Most game providers license their games to the casino for a small % of what the casinos earn on the slots. So, if a streamer wins big, then yes in some way Pragmatic Play will lose some money. We are completely fine with that, as these are legitimate wins.
Q: Why do we have so many bonus buy games and why don’t we restrict them?
I would like to clarify that only a small percentage of our games have the bonus buy feature. But, because we have a large number of games and are rolling out four to five new games a month, we also have many bonus buy games, relatively speaking. Even if it’s only a small percentage of our overall game portfolio. So why bonus buy games? We believe in listening to feedback from our community and both players and streamers have clearly told us that they enjoy the bonus buy feature. Therefore, we will keep adding bonus buy to games where we believe it creates a good experience for the players.
I am the first to admit that sometimes it works better than other times, but that is the same for games, not everything can be a hit. So why don’t we restrict the bonus buy feature? As a manufacturer, it is our responsibility to follow the industry regulations when it comes to the certification and compliance of our games and to provide the tools for the casinos to set the required limits. This allows the casinos to meet the regulatory requirements, depending on the jurisdiction they are in, and choose their desired risk level. It is not a standard practice for manufacturers to set limits. Limits are usually set by regulators, operators and/or users. The same applies for land-based slot providers, but also in many other industries.
I hope all this helps to clarify things. I am always available to answer any questions