Some months have now passed since the infamous Twitch gambling ban which saw the platform tighten restrictions on unlicensed gambling sites.
The restrictions, enforced on October 18th last year, prohibited “any streaming of listed sites that contain slots, roulette, and dice games and are unlicensed in the U.S. or other jurisdictions that offer consumer protections like deposit limits, waiting periods, and age verification systems”, according to Twitch.
Though the ban did not extend to all gambling streams (sports betting and poker are still permitted on the platform), it left high-profile streamers like Roshtein, Trainwreckstv, and xQc seeking a new platform from which to continue providing content to their audiences
Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to reassess the situation.
In this blog post I’ll be exploring the extent to which gambling streams have become an integral part of the iGaming ecosystem, how the Twitch gambling ban impacts operators, and the platforms in the running to become the new home of gambling live streams.
The growth in popularity of gambling streams has had a significant impact on the iGaming ecosystem at large. And a lot of that has to do with the rise of influencer culture.
Many of us are familiar with social media influencers, promoting products and services on platforms such as YouTube or Instagram. It’s a type of affiliate marketing that benefits both the endorsed company (which gains access to a ready-made audience) and the influencer (who receives a cut from the company for their endorsement).
And now this framework is being translated for different kinds of audiences – iGaming included. In the iGaming space, an influencer is typically an online casino or slots streamer with a sizeable audience. Today’s operators are becoming increasingly reliant on influencer endorsement as a driver of platform engagement. The viewers fuel the affiliate business (Trainwreck claimed to make $360 million in 16 months from promoting gambling on his Twitch streams) and the affiliate business prompts new sign ups to the operator’s site.
Part of the Joelsson Media Group, CasinoDaddy is an online casino streaming channel that runs on YouTube and Twitch. The channel has become one of the biggest online casino streaming communities in the world and is a prime example of an affiliate model.
“A partnership between an affiliate and a manager is a two-way street. It should be mutually beneficial, and both parties should gain from it, as long as there’s clear communication and an effort to understand each other’s needs”, comments Erik Joelsson, CEO of Joelsson Media Group.
There’s no doubt that the Twitch ban impacted this symbiotic relationship between streamers and operators. Sites, such as Stake.com, Rollbit.com, Duelbits.com, and Roobet.com, all of which were prohibited from the platform as part of the crackdown can no longer benefit from traffic generated by Twitch influencers.
But it’s not all bad news for operators, as many of Twitch’s most lauded casino streamers have rallied against the decision and decided to relocate their channels to alternative platforms (taking their audiences with them).
One of my eight predictions for the iGaming industry in 2023 was that stream betting would find a new home. And, to a certain extent, that’s exactly what’s happened. Many streamers have moved all, or part, of their content away from Twitch. And two alternative platforms in particular – Kick.com and DLive - have emerged as firm favorites.
In the immediate aftermath of the Twitch gambling ban, Kick.com quickly emerged as the go-to alternative. Though Kick.com is far from rivalling Twitch in terms of numbers, the Stake.com-backed platform quickly established itself as a safe space for gambling streams.
Celebrity streamers like Trainwreck, once one of the biggest slot streamers on Twitch, endorsed the platform whilst openly criticizing the hypocrisy of Twitch’s policy change. Many streamers followed suit, both out of necessity and lured by the platform’s attractive 95/5 subscription revenue split. There’s even growing speculation that Twitch loyalist xQc might soon jump ship – we’ll just have to wait and see.
DLive tells a similar story. The platform has no restrictions on gambling content, and actively promotes gambling streamers. In the immediate aftermath of the Twitch gambling ban, DLive actively promoted Twitch’s former gambling stars under a #YourStreamYourRules hashtag. Since then, the platform has attracted top streamers including AussieSlots, Xposed, Markoslots, and Classybeef.
The jury’s still out on whether online gambling streamers will be able to sustain themselves without Twitch. DLive and Kick.com have gone some way to lessen the blow but since they’re significantly smaller platforms, streamers are left contending with reduced viewer counts.
Some have resorted to a cross-platform approach. Roshtein, the longest active slot streamer on Twitch (and someone I’ve more than once been mistaken for) now streams his big money games on Kick.com, whilst maintaining his regular cadence of gaming content on Twitch. But for streamers whose primary content falls under Twitch’s banned categories, the ramifications will be more noticeable. And for banned operators like Stake.com, the profitable cycle of affiliate revenue may start shrinking.
Jamie Daniel is our iGaming expert and understands the unique challenges faced by the industry. When not cultivating a magnificent beard, he’s working from our UK office.