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Erik Gibbs July 15, 2021 3 min read
Beware the Wolf in Twitch Clothing
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to find new and creative ways to attract customers to a business. It’s always important to go where the consumers are in order to maximize exposure. However, it’s also important to follow the rules, especially when reputations determine who succeeds and who doesn’t. Some iGaming operators seem ambivalent to the need to adhere to regulations, which is why these are probably not ideal choices for gamblers. If they can’t be bothered to play by the rules, there’s no reason to believe they can be bothered to conduct any of their activity, including payouts, in a proper manner.
iGaming Operators Are Playing Games
An exposé by Wired Magazine highlights one of the potential issues facing the iGaming industry. It points out the case of a popular Twitch streamer, Tyler “Trainwrecks” Niknam, who was tapped to promote Stake.com to his 1.5 million followers. Trainwrecks would reportedly spend hours streaming his time at the virtual slots on the site, sometimes earning “as much as $400,000 in crypto in one fell swoop.” Anyone who has spent just 30 minutes at a slot machine knows that this is virtually impossible.
Virtually impossible, but not totally impossible. However, adding to the issue was the fact that Trainwrecks, who may have been earning “tens of thousands of dollars an hour,” is from Texas, a state that is adamant that casinos and sports gambling will never be allowed. Not even a mega-millions campaign from Las Vegas Sands has been enough to get lawmakers to change their minds. Instead of using a streamer in a jurisdiction where its platform is legal, Stake.com turned to someone in an illegal state – from a gambling standpoint – to push its site. This, according to some legal experts, is the same as promoting illegal gambling. That would mean, if the experts are correct, that both Stake and Trainwrecks are complicit in conducting illegal activity. Wired tried to get feedback from Stake and Trainwrecks, but neither responded before the story was published.
The Twitch, Crypto and iGaming Triangle
Twitch is inarguably the most popular streaming platform, iGaming is inarguably the most accessible form of gambling around the world and cryptocurrency makes it easy for gamblers to play. There is an intrinsic connection between the three and Wired points out that “64 of the top 1,000 most-trafficked Twitch streamers” are sponsored by crypto iGaming sites or have streamed crypto slots. It’s big business, with one site, Duelbits, reportedly willing to pay Adin Ross, a popular gambling streamer, as much as $1.6 million each month to stream the operator’s slots. As with Stake and Trainwrecks, neither Ross nor Duelbits responded to a request for input from Wired.
Stake and Duelbits aren’t running illegal gambling sites – they’re fully licensed by Curacao. However, they’re not licensed to serve US customers. Their promotional ploys are a little questionable, though, and, according to Keith Whyte, carry big risks. The executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling asserts, “A lot of the gambling promoted on Twitch is illegal or unregulated and poses definite risks for consumers, vulnerable adults, and adolescents or underage children. It’s a fairly common tactic in the unregulated gambling industry to inflate win rates.” It can be said that inflating win rates is, at the very least, an example of questionable ethos. That can be a problem for gamblers, but it can also be a problem for the sites. If they ever want to break into the legal US market, they’ll learn that getting a license isn’t so easy.