Twitch, a streaming service with ties to many forms of gambling as well as a television subscription service, is under fire in the UK. The UK Gambling Commission is investigating the platform after an investigation revealed that the service had several different sites streaming on it that were not licensed. This violates the gaming policy in the country, especially when the streaming service has ads that advertise these illegal sites, which is generating income for the platform.
Gambling in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom has had gambling in different forms legalized since the 18th century. Horseracing was the first type of gambling to be legalized in the country, followed quickly by lotteries, which Britain used to fund different efforts during wartime. While the lotteries have proven to be very popular in the country, it has been poker and fixed-odds betting terminals which have had the largest profits among casino-type games. Sportsbooks and betshops are also extremely popular in the country.
All of the legal gambling in the United Kingdom is tightly regulated. The UK Gambling Commission oversees gambling regulation in the country. They decide where gambling revenues go, and how much taxation different forms of gambling should have to pay. Recently, the gambling commission has been under fire on several fronts. First, the commission has been under fire from social welfare groups for not taking a tougher stance on advertisements during sporting events. Second, the social welfare groups have discussed that more of the revenues from gambling in the UK need to go to treatment for problem gamblers. Also, the commission has been accused of not being tough enough on gambling companies.
At the beginning of Twitch as a streaming service, it allowed both gaming and non-gaming material on its platform. However, as the site gained in popularity, the non-gaming, streaming portion of the platform was spun off into Justin.tv—later acquired by Amazon. Twitch’s focus is streaming of live gameplay, which includes video games and esports games. There are also live streams of gambling platforms and games, such as poker play and poker tournaments. Twitch allows for viewing on the site live or as an on-demand feature.
The platform has proven to be extremely popular with gamers and esports enthusiasts. Twitch has more than 60 million viewers each week. While Twitch is reasonably priced for people who watch live streams of gambling, advertisers pay large sums of money to the platform in order to sponsor ads or streams on the platform.
The sheer size of the platform means that it is difficult for the service to monitor all of the streaming content or the advertising on the content channels. It has been estimated that there are as many as 30,000 channels on Twitch.
The Gambling Commission began its investigation after an internet news service dedicated to gambling and gaming in general stated that the platform was violating the law. The news service found that at least two unlicensed gambling sites are currently being promoted on the site in the UK, which violates the law. The two sites have been advertised by Twitch on multiple channels. The advertisements feature images and links to the sites in the descriptions. The sites are casino gaming sites that are not licensed in the UK. While Twitch has since removed ads for the unlicensed sites at the request of the gambling commission, the investigation is not done. The UK Gaming Commission has said they are working with the platform to remove unlicensed content. According to the commission, as long as the streaming service cooperates, they will most likely not be fined.
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