More and More Young People Watch Live Stream Gambling
By Emmett Bowman-Grubbs
On January 9th, 2022 sports betting became legal in New York State, since then, a massive rise in betting among teens has taken place. Sports betting is a different shade of online gambling and has become very popular entertainment to the extent that content creators with young audiences have incentivized slot machines and other forms of gambling for money and fame.
Twitch and Youtube are facilitating false narratives about gambling being a feasible way to make money, this has parents very cautious about what their kids are watching.
Surprisingly, more and more young people are watching influencers on Twitch and Youtube live-stream their gambling.
When one delves into the details, the sprawling array of issues are evident. Stake.com and Roobet.com have been the most popular online crypto casinos, both of which were illegal in the U.S.
Recently, Stake.com has become legal in some places, but Roobet.com is still illegal and cannot be played in the states. Roobet has even gone as far as flying sponsored creators out to Mexico so that they would be able to gamble legally. Another large streamer that has more than 1.5 million followers (Trainwreckstv) lives in a furniture-less apartment in Canada because of accusations that he was using a VPN to go illegally on the site in the U.S.
Twitch’s involvement in the prevention of kids watching gambling has been suspect to the point of outcry about an insufficiently thorough process of age verification. The guidelines say that if you are below 18, an adult should be accompanying you, and anyone below the age of 14 aren’t allowed to view. This isn’t uncommon though, in fact, every social media platform has these same issues of verifying age, similarly to other platforms though Twitch has many kid friendly safe spaces, but it also has a dark side and for children that’s difficult to navigate.
The legality of the gambling is the least important issue at hand, instead the main worry should be the impact on younger viewers. The top streamers that gamble are partnered with Twitch, which means they are supposed to be role models to the community.
Evan Walker is a high school senior at The Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, is surrounded by betting, but has the mental fortitude to stand his ground against it.
Evan happens to be an exceptional basketball player with multiple Division One offers. This is just to say that he is knowledgeable about the sport.
“I don’t do it because it’s just another form of gambling and I know if I get into it I’ll just end up losing money,” Evan said.
Evan went on to explain the slight differences in gambling versus betting.
“I think it’s slightly safer betting than regular gambling, with knowledge you can make educated bets, but at best they are still just educated guesses which is gambling,” he added.
But does Twitch hold any of the blame for this recent betting craze?
“I think they have definitely played a role in promoting gambling to youth,” he said.
Carter Swetow, another Berkeley Carroll senior who sports bets, has strong opinions.
“Skill can propel you in betting in a way that it can’t in gambling,” he said. “However, after I lose money I’m focused on getting it back, when I’m making money it feels more like I’m betting to have more of a reason to watch basketball,” he added.
“Twitch is a huge part of the rise of gambling, in a way I don’t think I would have ever considered betting, it just wasn’t even on my radar. I don’t think kids should really be able to just easily watch it on Twitch, I don’t know the answers, but I’d start with having to be above sixteen to click on,” Carter said.
Dr. Bellantuono of the Child Mind Institute in Manhattan weighed in on some issues with betting that might not be so apparent.
“Betting simply because you like basketball isn’t going to last for many people. By adding gambling to the mix, you are training your brain to require the risk-taking aspects of gambling in order to truly enjoy something that you would have otherwise enjoyed without it,” he added.
He said in many ways, it has similar effects on the brain as recreational drugs. A person may start using drugs recreationally to enhance day-to-day activities and experiences, but very quickly the drug becomes a necessary component of their experience.
“With betting, the moment that you can’t enjoy a game without placing a bet, you should consider beginning to seek help before it gets worse,” Dr. Bellantuono said.
Dr. Bellantuono sparked an idea about a potential step in the right direction: Adding warning labels for addictive substances like nicotine. On a pack of cigarettes you can commonly find the words, “Caution: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health.”
An approach like this should be the bare minimum and should be enforced by Twitch in terms of watching gambling. A banner that is permanently on the screen is standard for sponsored creators because it’s part of their contract. A small banner that says that gambling is addictive and that the money being used is not their money would be great deterrents.
Twitch and other streamers need to be responsible for these young impressionable audiences.