Technology

American streamers are paid by “crypto casinos” illegally

A survey by the American magazine Wired shows that some streamers promote banned betting sites in the United States, and that they are paid to do so. The popularity of these crypto casinos is exploding on Twitch, where minors can access these streams.

Poker and blackjack tables, slot machines, and roulette games: on Stake.com and many other similar sites, you can find all the traditional casino games. However, with one major difference: here, all bets are made in cryptocurrency.

These crypto casinos are growing in popularity on Twitch. Very easy to use, they allow you to quickly and easily buy small amounts of cryptocurrency, all without going through the identity checks sometimes necessary to open a crypto wallet. And for hours, streamers with several hundred thousand subscribers – if not millions – tirelessly play slots, losing large sums of cryptocurrency in sometimes a matter of minutes.

However, these casinos are illegal in the United States – they do not have a license in France either – and some streamers are paid by these casinos, which they do not tell their audience.

Equipment to stream // Maik Jonietz / Unsplash

Popular on Twitch

It is the American magazine Wired, which carried out an investigation on the subject, which reveals the figures and the success of these crypto casinos on Twitch. Wired explains that “ 64 of Twitch’s 1,000 most popular streamers have played slots at, or partnered with, crypto casinos “.

The magazine explains that the fashion for these crypto casinos started to take off between April and May 2021, with streams watched by over 100,000 people live. Mostly, ” many of these streamers are Twitch Partners Wired notes, which means they can make more money on the platform than other users, and they get better exposure. Twitch Partners are considered “ the best Wired explains, and very often they have tremendous influence in their community.

Wired reports in particular the case of Tyler Niknam, who streams under the name Trainwrecks, has more than 1.5 million subscribers on Twitch, and sometimes plays for ten hours in a row at the slot machines of crypto casinos in front of more than 25,000 people live. As Wired explains, performing in front of so many people for such a long time can be likened to “ promoting illegal betting sites », A felony punishable by prison in several American states. So much so that a month ago, Tyler Niknam chose to settle in Canada so that he could continue to stream his days spent playing slots.

Sites based in Curacao and Malta

More or less kitsh in their decor, crypto casinos all look alike in their operation, Numerama noted. They do not verify age, and offer to buy cryptocurrency very easily through intermediaries. Once your wallet is full, you can choose to bet on throws of the dice, or even attend roulette games. live “. An impressive variety of games are offered, whether they are slots on the theme of the Far West or Egyptian mythology; or games of blackjack against a computer.

It is also possible to make sports bets on some of these casinos, including Stake.com. Many sports are available: in addition to making bets on the next matches of the Utimate Fighting Championship in the United States, users can also bet on esports teams, or on tennis matches.

The games offered by a crypto casino “Monte Crypto Account” // Numerama screenshot

Most of these crypto casinos are based in Curacao, an island in the Netherlands Antilles known for licensing online gambling sites, or in Cyprus or Malta. However, if these sites are well licensed and they comply with Dutch or Cypriot regulations, they remain banned in many countries – which they hardly specify on their site.

Some casinos do display a message indicating that the site is not ” available in your jurisdiction », But as Wired shows, this obstacle is very easily bypassed by using a VPN. Using such a site in the United States is already illegal, as is playing it in front of an audience of several thousand people. But the most problematic is that the streamers hide their paid partnerships with these sites.

Hidden partnerships

One of these crypto casinos, Duelbits, reportedly offered Adin Ross (over 4.5 million subscribers on Twitch) between $ 1.4 and $ 1.6 million per month to film himself playing games. slot machines from the site, Wired discovered. Importantly, streamer Matthew Rinaudo admitted during a live on his Twitch channel in June that he had been paid $ 35,000 an hour to play, and that the casino had automatically filled his cryptocurrency account. ” I was not playing with my money “, He confirmed, which he had not specified to his fans at the time.

During the lives in question, losing money was not seen as something serious, explains Wired, whose reporter saw a streamer lose $ 15,000 in a few minutes without flinching. But such behavior could be far more dangerous for fans of streamers, who themselves play with their own money. Especially since the Twitch category dedicated to betting, ” gambling », Is not prohibited for those under 18. Note that the broadcasts of casino games are not specifically prohibited by Twitch’s terms of use, but that they prohibit streamers from engaging in illegal activities.

One of the slot machines available at a crypto casino // Numerama screenshot

Casino streams are also coming to France

If most of the lives on crypto casinos are for the moment made by American streamers, it seems that the trend is gradually arriving in France. Numerama could see that some streamers broadcast their games on virtual slots and in virtual casinos, whether they use crypto or not. Some of these streams had several thousand viewers, and displayed promotional offers in their descriptions.

This activity is however prohibited in the country. Contacted by Numerama, the National Games Authority confirmed to us that “ online casino sites (using cryptocurrency or not) are illegal in France. Their promotion is illegal ” [seuls quelques rares sites de paris sportifs et de jeux de cercle sont agréés, ndlr]. Twitch, who we asked about delivering online casino streams, has yet to respond.

The problem also lies in the fact that these sites, which are not authorized to operate in France, are still very easy to access. Numerama was thus able to visit many online casino sites without any problem and without VPN. And although these sites are automatically displayed in French, they never broadcast a warning message to explain that the service is normally prohibited. You have to search the sites to find their licenses, and see that they should not practice in France.

Have you seen streams in which certain influencers advertised online casinos, or crypto casinos? Lost money after being enticed to gamble? Your testimony interests us. Write to us at tips@numerama.com or aurore.gayte@humanoid.fr.

Photo credit of the one:
Krissia Cruz / Unsplash

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