Gamers and sports fans alike are all enjoying Twitch. This live streaming channel hosts content related to gaming, sports, music, entertainment, and more. Its popularity grew during the outbreak of COVID-19 as more people spent time at home and were seeking other sources of entertainment. While this channel can connect like-minded people, there has been some controversy about the ethics of the platform, especially when it comes to its gambling-related streams. Could Twitch be a proponent of gambling problems in children and adults?
A Lack of Age-Gating Is Problematic
Considering a majority of their viewership is underage children, there’s a concern for the lack of regulations regarding viewing and showcasing gambling content. For decades now, streaming platforms and online games have lacked proper age-gating, or age verification, techniques. This means young teens and children can stream content meant for mature audiences with a simple click of a button.
As gambling content on Twitch is unregulated, adolescents are free to stream their favorite creators as they play online slots or poker. Many gambling problem experts are concerned about the environment this platform is manifesting. With gambling content so readily available, Twitch could become a breeding ground for problematic gambling in vulnerable viewers. Research has shown that impressionable children exposed to gambling are more likely to struggle with a gambling disorder at some point in their lives. Watching others play slots or poker for hours on end normalizes the habit in children’s minds, which could lead to issues in the future when they are managing their own finances.
Perception Is Skewed
Viewers on Twitch’s gambling streams only see a small percentage of the picture. While streamers must disclose affiliations with gambling sites, they do not have to state how much money they received from those sites to play their games. This means viewers are seeing streamers bet money and not caring if they lose because the money wasn’t theirs in the first place, which gives viewers a skewed view.
Adolescents and adults see gamblers disregarding losses and celebrating wins, unconsciously learning that gambling is all about the wins. They can become blinded to the signs that indicate it’s time to call it quits, which is a sign of a gambling problem. The executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling stated that the more the act of gambling is normalized, the less likely people would take precautions to protect themselves when engaging in gambling behavior.
A Matter of Legality
It’s important to note as well that certain gambling activities are illegal depending on where the streamer is located. Twitch has guidelines that state streamers must follow local, national, and international laws and refrain from posting illegal content. They even recently came out with a policy that limits gambling advertising. However, these guidelines and policies simply protect Twitch from being liable for any issues and are not likely to lower the number of gambling streams on the channel. Vulnerable adults and teens are still at risk of consuming content that could lead to a gambling problem.
Do You Need Help?
With so many triggers present in our world, it’s not uncommon for someone recovering from a gambling problem to relapse. If you need support during your recovery, you can use our anonymous gambler’s helpline at any time. Or, if you would like resources, such as problem gambling facts, to help you discuss your condition with your family and friends, you can get in touch with our experts for more information. Call today for support, treatment information, and hope!