Opinion | Twitch needs to ban gambling from its website

Twitch needs to better regulate gambling content on their platform, or remove it entirely

Bangkok%2C+Thailand+-+June+10%2C+2019+%3A+iPhone+7+showing+its+screen+with+Netflix+and+other+video+streaming+applications.

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Bangkok, Thailand – June 10, 2019 : iPhone 7 showing its screen with Netflix and other video streaming applications.

Peter Anders, Opinions Columnist


Twitch saw an explosive period of growth over the last twelve months as a result of the lockdown brought on by the outbreak of COVID-19. But a recent controversy over gambling shows the problems that come with this new increased viewership.

Twitch has allowed gambling to flourish on the site. Considering the viewership of Twitch includes a large number of children, the company needs to take action and ban these streams from the platform.

Twitch has had a gambling scene for some time. However, it has been blown into the spotlight  over the past few months, and the debate over it has turned streamers against one another. Big Twitch streamers have been indulging in the gambling scene as of late, such as Félix Lengyel, known as xQc on the platform, and Tyler Nikam, known as Trainwrecks.

Because many of the viewers who watch these channels are young and easily influenced, they are drawn into gambling by watching these streamers participate. Knowing that 41 percent of Twitch viewers are between the ages of 16 to 24, the problem becomes the fact that these are highly impressionable children who, by their very nature, are prone to get addicted.

They are not fully mentally matured to exhibit even the slightest form of self-control or restraint. If there was a perfect age group for gambling sites to target, it’s them.

In a review of 140 different studies on gambling and its effects, the National Council on Problem Gaming found an astounding 75 percent of students surveyed in 2018 had gambled by that point.

Twitch can stop this problem very easily by banning any demonstration or form of gambling from their platform outright. It claims to take the responsibility of monitoring content very seriously and does not hesitate to uphold its terms of service guidelines. It bans certain types of content from its platform, as well.

But when it comes to gambling, knowing full well many of its users are susceptible to its allure very easily, its stance is nothing short of pathetic. The only thing Twitch says on its website under its community guidelines – in regards to controversies such as this – is that users and streamers are required to, “respect all applicable local, national, and international laws while using [Twitch] services. Any content or activity featuring, encouraging, offering, or soliciting illegal activity is prohibited.”

While this is not surprising coming from a corporate entity like Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, this language is infuriating and only cements that they do not care about the effects gambling can have on young, impressionable viewers. The subject of moderating content in aspects of streaming is open ended, but allowing streams of people gambling, knowing full well young viewers could take away from it “gambling is fun, why don’t I try it with Mom’s credit card,” is dangerous.

Gambling laws exist for a reason. There is a reason why those under a certain age are banned from partaking in any form of it. It is well known that children and even young adults are especially susceptible to the addiction of gambling, and the adrenaline brought on by the game of chance. If Twitch does not find a way to moderate or outright ban gambling content from the platform, consequences would be dire for everyone involved.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


 

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