Twitch is a live video game broadcasting service owned by Amazon. Launched in 2011, the streaming platform offers users the chance to follow their favourite gamers for free, as well as chat to one another while they watch. Besides watching their favourite gamers, users can enjoy streams of online casino games, a practice that has proved very popular although not without criticism. Broadcasting high profile casino games is controversial from a compliance perspective, and there are a few legal grey areas that it’s important to be aware of.
The representation of online gambling can at times be problematic, and while there are plenty of trustworthy gambling sites where players are treated fairly, there are also malicious outliers who ruin it for the unlucky few. There are rigorous iGaming laws in place that Twitch as well as every online casino must adhere to – so, what is Twitch gambling and how legal is it?
How Does Gambling Work on Twitch?
The casino section on Twitch has proved very popular. It gives users the opportunity to watch high stakes games and follow the work of professional poker and Blackjack players. Players themselves harness the appeal of the gaming element in order to enjoy the revenue it yields. Subsequently, Twitch have been required to navigate the legal grey area and create clear terms to prevent users from being exploited or their wellbeing put at risk.
James Varga Case
In 2016, a case involving streamer James Varga changed the Twitch gambling landscape. Varga, better known by his screen name ‘Phantoml0rd’, found himself in a sticky situation in 2016 when it was discovered he was promoting gambling activities on an external site. Users could pay for the chance to win gaming skins – a raffle that was essentially gambling. With none of the required regulations in place, Varga was breaking the law, and Twitch were quick to ban him from the platform.
As well as motivating them to expel Phantoml0rd, this case forced Twitch to review their terms and get a tighter grip on casino streams.
Is Twitch Gambling Legal?
Streaming online casino games isn’t inherently illegal, but problems arise as a result of different gambling laws across international borders. In order for a Twitch casino stream to be compliant, there are rules that must be adhered to. All participants must adhere to Twitch.tv’s terms and conditions the main points of which in reference to gambling we’ve summarised below.
- The gambling site must be licensed in the country from which it is being streamed – in the UK that means it must be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission.
- Only 30 minutes of gambling streaming is permitted at a time. This means that users can only watch for 30 minutes when using real money before switching to play money. The aim of this rule is to discourage continuous play, reduce exposure to advertisements and thereby minimise the risk of encouraging problem gambling.
- Twitch gambling streamers are also required to put an age filter on their streams, attaching a ‘mature content’ message which requires users to confirm they are of legal age within their jurisdiction to view gambling content.
- As well as imposing rules on streamers, opportunities for users to gamble themselves are also regulated: user-hosted raffles cannot charge for entry and are required to hold a licence, which means that a genuinely legal Twitch raffle is pretty rare.
The Future of Twitch Gambling
With all the controversy surrounding casino streaming, what does the future hold for Twitch gamblers and the people who like to watch them play? The answer is unclear, but it’s certain that iGaming Laws will be required to have many more incarnations to tackle this controversial practice.
What is clear is that those seeking to stream online gambling should be careful, and, if in doubt, simply visit a reputable, licensed online casino to get their gambling fix. Check out NetBet Casino today, where players can enjoy the best online slots and table classics in a safe, regulated environment.