Enneric Chabot, 26, didn’t start gambling until he saw his favourite gamers doing it online.
Three years ago, Chabot began regularly watching Felix “xQc” Lengyel, a former professional Overwatch player, as he competed in various video games on Amazon.com’s livestreaming site Twitch for audiences of up to 25,000 viewers. In 2021, during some of his streams, Lengyel started playing something else—online blackjack.
Chabot, who lives in Quebec and does accounting for a hospital, was intrigued.
At one point, Chabot saw Lengyel post a promotional code for a site called Stake.com — which bills itself as a “leading online crypto casino.” After a couple of months, Chabot says he drained his life savings of about $40,000. Eventually, Chabot declared bankruptcy.
These days, “slots” is the seventh most popular content category on Twitch, ahead of the video game Fortnite. Many streamers are paid handsomely to take part in the activity. One popular streamer said he makes “much more” than $1 million a month as part of his sponsorship with Stake to crypto gamble in front of live audiences on Twitch. In May, Lengyel said the promotion code he shared on Twitch brought $119 million to Stake.
For years, offshore gambling has been a thorn in the side of US regulators.
About 6 per cent and 9 per cent of young people struggle with gambling compared to 1 per cent of adults, according to the National Center for Responsible Gaming. In recent months, more than 2,300 people have signed a Change.org petition asking Twitch advertisers including Nvidia and PepsiCo to reconsider advertising on the platform in light of the gambling streams.
The companies did not respond to requests for comment.
Streamers like Rinaudo believe it’s Twitch’s responsibility to stop providing a platform for promoting offshore crypto gambling sites. As long as Twitch allows it, he says, streamers are likely to keep accepting enormous sums of money to promoting sites like Stake.