Twitch's Crypto Casino Ban Ignores the Bigger Play

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During a heavily-watched Twitch stream on September 18, UK-based creator Sliker delivered a tearful admission to his audience. “It’s time for the truth,” he said between sobs. “I lied to many people … I borrowed money off people.” He’d pried, he confessed, at least $200,000 from fellow streamers and fans, a move he claimed was the result of a gambling addiction that began with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. “I would come across streamers and ask them if I could borrow money,” he said. “I wouldn’t give them the reason, because it was gambling. I would lie to them.” He’s since been stripped of his partner status and users can no longer subscribe to his channel.

Sliker’s swindling of several well-known streamers is drawing new attention to Twitch’s sticky relationship with gambling, which has existed on the platform for years. Critics say that for impressionable viewers, watching their favorite streamers place bets can be a gateway into an expensive, sometimes illegal, potentially life-ruining addiction. Twitch says it’s been “actively reviewing” gambling content and has plans for changes in October, but some streamers want it off the platform entirely.

On Twitch, you can stream slot machines, sports betting, poker, and other games that are legal in many places. Lots of streamers do, part of lucrative sponsorship deals in which companies give them money or referral codes to play games on their sites in front of viewers. It’s mutually beneficial: streamers pull in big paychecks—some claim they make millions—and gambling companies...

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