Enneric Chabot, 26, didn’t start betting until he saw his favorite players 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 Twitch live streaming site for audiences of up to 25,000 viewers. In 2021, during some of his broadcasts, Lengyel started playing something else: online blackjack.
Chabot, who lives in Quebec and works as an accountant 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 depleted his life savings by about $40,000. Chabot eventually filed for bankruptcy.
Currently, “slots” are the seventh most popular content category on Twitch, ahead of the video game Fortnite. Many streamers are paid handsomely for participating in the activity. A popular streamer said that he earns “much more” than $1 million a month as part of his sponsorship with Stake to gamble with crypto in front of live audiences on Twitch. In May, Lengyel said the promo code he shared on Twitch brought $119 million into Stake.
For years, offshore gambling has been a thorn in the side of US regulators.
About 6% to 9% of youth struggle with gambling compared to 1% 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 gambling broadcasts.
The companies did not respond to requests for comment.
Streamers like Rinaudo believe that it is Twitch’s responsibility to stop providing a platform to promote crypto gambling sites abroad. As long as Twitch allows it, he says, streamers will likely continue to accept huge sums of money to promote sites like Stake.