THE ‘GOLDEN GOOSE’
Gambling can “wreck lives, impact families and communities, and even lead to suicide in extreme cases,” warns a government paper reviewing Britain’s gambling rules.
Around 300,000 people in the UK are ‘problem gamblers’, it reports, meaning their activities “compromise, disrupt or damage family, personal or recreational pursuits”.
A further 1.8m people have “elevated levels of risk”.
Campaigners warn this is an underestimation, with a 2020 YouGov survey finding that 13% of the population (around 6.8m people) were suffering the negative impacts of gambling.
The rise of streamers gambling on crypto casinos is a concern for health workers like Matt Gaskell. He is the clinical lead for the NHS Northern Gambling Service which supports people struggling with a gambling addiction.
While there’s evidence that watching these streams can help addicts satisfy cravings without using their own money, Gaskell warns there is a risk of a relapse because the sounds and images can trigger “physical and psychological reactions” which could end up driving someone back to the casino.
“The slot machine is the golden goose of the gambling industry. Data from the Gambling Commission suggests that 45% of players will be harmed by playing slot machines.”
Online slot machines are designed to make the gambler lose – for example, this game has a return of 96.38%. Put £100 in, and you’re likely to only get £96.38 back.
Streamers broadcasting themselves gambling on crypto casinos is already controversial.
One of the major streaming sites, Twitch, told Sky News they’ve gone to “significant lengths to reduce gambling content on Twitch, and have banned a number of gambling sites from our service, including Stake.com.”
Twitch reports that gambling viewership on their site has dropped by around 75% and they have banned more sites since. But, at around the same time, a Stake co-founder set up his own rival streaming site, Kick.com, which features the casino.
Launched in October 2022, Kick reports it hit 10m users in July.
A number of prominent gambling streamers have been linked to Stake, including Trainwreck – who has 3.3 million collective followers – and is also a Kick co-founder.