Game providers who encourage shady casino streamers harm the industry and should be held responsible
Update February 2, 2021: game provider Pragmatic Play, who was used as an example in this article to highlight the problem, has notified us that they have since removed all promotional content featuring a particularly controversial streamer. As a sign of goodwill, we have in turn agreed to remove a screenshot of a promotional Facebook post in which the streamer in question was featured.
For many years the online casino industry was pretty much unregulated. Responsible gambling was something that was simply swept under the carpet. Being driven largely by greed, self-regulation was never even considered. As a direct consequence, the industry has become heavily regulated, and, as it stands, things are getting progressively worse for everyone who enjoys playing slots or love working in the industry. Unfortunately, a few bad apples continue to ruin it for everyone by pushing the limits.
In the UK and several other European markets there are all sorts of rules in place these days; from highly invasive affordability checks to strict marketing guidelines. Yet, when you look at what’s going on over at Twitch and Youtube, it’s like being transported back to the wild west of pre-regulation era. On Twitch, which is a platform mainly populated by young adults and teenagers (41% are age 16-24), gambling is aggressively advertised around the clock with few restrictions. Needless to say, responsibility is of particular importance here. An increasing number of people are incensed and provoked by the gambling activity carried out on these popular platforms and demand for it to cease.
As we’ve reported in the past, the UKGC is aware of the situation and has already implemented several restrictions. Still, they hold no jurisdiction outside of the UK and thus have no say over other markets. For those who fear the current situation may lead to even more stringent regulation, and which could very well end up being the final nail in the coffin, casino streaming is considered something of a farce and a cause of constant concern.
So what is the problem with casino streaming you might be asking? Let us be clear on one thing first – we are not arguing for casino streaming to be shut down. We are all for freedom of choice and even have a streaming partner of our own. However, it’s important to address the issues that are plaguing the casino streaming community as it is undermining the credibility and trustworthiness of the industry as a whole.
First of all, it’s important to understand a few things, and no legit streamer will deny this; the only real thing about casino streaming is that nothing you see is real – at least not from the perspective of the regular punter. Casino streamers are in large part as real as the influencers you see on Instagram – let’s just be clear on that. What you do see are things such as inflated viewer counts through the use of bots, streamers portraying themselves as independent enthusiasts when they are not, the use of streaming bonuses and sponsor money offered by game providers, and even fake non-withdrawable funds.
There are many decent streamers who try their best to be transparent, but some are just flat-out scammers. The most shameless and unscrupulous ones are easily recognised by their ridiculous fake cash balances accrued on shady bitcoin/curacao casinos who, as opposed to most properly licensed ones, are willing to participate in the fraudulent marketing schemes carried out by the streamer. These are the same predatory casinos that will have withdrawals capped at €5,000 per week in order to protect themselves from bankruptcy (you’re lucky to even get paid), while at the same time amazingly having the financial muscles to shower their streaming partners in crime with endless 2-300% bonuses, allowing them to gamble at levels that would easily risk putting any such casino out of business.
So where do game providers fit in all of this? Well, the matter of the fact is that casino streaming has transitioned from being mainly a marketing platform for casinos, to one where game providers are now prepared to pay large sums in return for exposure. To some degree, this shift can be explained by the fact that casinos are under constant threat of regulatory intervention and have been forced to take a step back. Game providers, on the other hand, continue to fly under the radar and appear to be free of responsibility.
When confronted, game studios may use arguments such as “we cannot prevent streamers from playing our games”. Meanwhile, streamers regularly spend thousands and thousands chasing big wins with the help of free money (streaming bonuses/sponsored funds/fake funds), only to be used by game providers as examples of; “look, this can happen to you too if you play our games”. All in all, it paints a thoroughly false picture of what gambling is like for the overwhelming majority of players. The question is, why do UK licensed game providers get away with this?
By using these “big wins” as promotional material, and plastering them all over their social media channels, game providers legitimise bad practices. On more than one occasion we have spoken out against providers on this very matter, both publicly and in private. Some, like Yggdrasil Gaming, have taken the criticism seriously and retracted their social media posts once realising their mistake. Others, meanwhile, couldn’t care less. Interestingly, it’s usually one or two game providers that receive particularly heavy rotation and exposure amongst the shady streamers, so it begs the question – why is that? They all just happen to be fans of the provider in question? That would probably be the naive way of looking at it.
It’s time that game providers who condone this behavior, and who encourage fraudulent streamers by legitimising them, are held responsible. Twitch and Youtube may continue to ignore the problem, regulators may continue to act like confused technotards, and shady casinos may continue to hide behind weak licenses. But at the end of the day, the power is in the hands of the players. As long as you continue to feed the bad apples in this industry with your money, they will see no reason to stop.
Let us know in the comments below whether you agree or not or if you have any suggestions on how to tackle this issue.