UK Gambling Commission Investigates Unlicensed Casino Streaming on Twitch By Luke Haward, CDC Gaming Reports December 21, 2018 at 8:10 pm The journos at video game journalism site Eurogamer should be congratulated for performing a public service. Their investigations into Twitch’s streaming of online casino gaming exposed at least two unlicensed services being streamed and promoted there. To the UK Gambling Commission’s credit, they have lost no time in beginning an investigation of their own into the matter, which is bound to be far more extensive. This is an interesting test case as to how well the GC is currently set up to negotiate, oversee and manage situations involving internationally sourced media and gaming content like live streaming, particularly in light of established UK regulations governing what can be broadcast to UK residents. The Commission released a statement in announcing the investigation, which read, in part: “When illegal gambling websites are brought to our attention, we take a number of proportionate steps to protect consumers in Britain. This will initially involve assessment of whether the site is actually used by consumers in Britain, and then may include engagement with the site owners, and ultimately working closely with advertising and payment providers to cut off sources of customers and access to funds.” According to the Eurogamer report, both adverts and live streams for the two services in question were unearthed. I would be less than surprised, after the regulatory investigation concludes, to learn that others have been found. The Commission have stated that they are working with Twitch to prevent broadcast of unlicensed operators. The Commission also requested that Eurogamer withhold the names of the operators in question to avoid promoting these unlicensed firms. This makes good sense. There is a question here, currently, over how much sway an individual national regulator will be able to have over streaming content. It will be fascinating to see which way Twitch leans on this one; its decision will effectively set a precedent regarding the regulation of streaming, online play, and advertising. Another complaint many have voiced is that there is currently no age restriction preventing children from viewing the streams, other than external parental controls and content settings. There also have been complaints of “bot viewers” populating casino streams that appear to have thousands of viewers but in which most viewing accounts are fake, or bots. This constitutes a manipulation of the viewing public, in order to encourage or normalise play, and, license or no, these latter issues apply to all streaming of casino play online. The lines between play and observation, gambling and gaming, esports and betting on esports, are all likely to get further blurred and tangled during the years ahead. How regulators navigate this increasingly complex space will require near-constant innovation and a scramble to keep up with an ever-changing tech landscape. Given the challenges likely to emerge in the near future regarding regulation of the online space, this negotiation with Twitch will probably soon seem like child’s play.