On Saturday, a Twitch streamer named Abraham Mohammed, better known to viewers as Sliker, accepted that he defrauded fans and other content creators of at least $200,000 to fund his Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling addiction. In response, big-name streamers like Imane “Pokimane” Anys, Matthew “Mizkif” Rinaudo, and Devin Nash coordinated a boycott of Twitch during Christmas week to protest the platform’s lax gaming policies.
CS: GO contains weapon casings that have value in real money on the Valve market. Because the rarest skins can be worth thousands of dollars, third-party sites use them as “casino chips” to bet on the outcome CS: GO matches. Since 2016, the skin betting market was worth an estimated $7 billion. Sliker received money from fans and other streamers under the false pretense that his bank account had been frozen and that he needed to borrow money to prevent his credit score from taking a hit. Streamer Hasan “HasanAbi” Piker was among those who gave money to Sliker after asking him for help, falsely saying that, among other financial problems and complications, his payments from Twitch hadn’t arrived that month. The girls said later, “I thought he needed, I thought he needed money.” But in Saturday’s video, Sliker admitted that telling people he was simply hard up for money was a ruse.
In a tear confession videoSliker told his viewers who he started gambling with CS: GO skins, but eventually switched to real money betting. He initially used the money from his first job and “all” of his Twitch income, but it wasn’t enough. He started borrowing money from other streamers, lying to them about why he needed the money and what the funds would be used for. In the video, he promised to eventually pay back all his creditors.
“I deserve the punishment. Whatever happens, happens,” he said. “I don’t know what to say to the people I borrowed from… this is the epitome of gambling. I mean don’t touch it.”
Popular streamers Pokimane, Mizkif, and Devin Nash discussed Twitch’s own responsibility to crack down on gaming streams, which some see as manipulative to viewers and perhaps especially harmful to young viewers. In a joint stream, they mentioned that some streamers have made money from promoting gaming and that gaming is one of Twitch’s most popular categories. Mizkif, crediting the idea to his acquaintance, political streamer Destiny, suggested that 10-20 content creators with large followings submit a joint statement to Twitch. Or the platform should take a stand against gambling streams and SPONSORSHIPor they will go on strike during Christmas week. my box reached out to Twitch, but did not receive a comment in time for publication. While some streamers are waiting for an answer, others are already mobilizing. Top creators like xQc and Ludwig say they will pay back some of the people who were scammed, provided they have proof that their money was taken. “Some of the stories are horrifying,” xqc tweeted. “There’s no way we’re going to sit there and watch/listen. I’m done tweeting about this optic. I don’t care what people think about it.”
Of course, not all streamers involved in the conversation share the view that gambling is a problem on the platform. Tyler Faraz “Trainwreck” Niknam, himself a slots streamer, he posted on Twitter that the “real problem” was people blaming slots, blackjack and roulette, rather than the individual. He argued that sports betting is normalized, but acknowledged that the practice of streamers running giveaways using codes that require viewers to engage in gambling is “predatory”, as is highlighting gambling winnings while hiding losses in flow. However, he attracts significant amounts of money with his own work gambling streams and sponsorships. Train wreck had previously borrowed Like $100,000.
Meanwhile, some creators, seeing the mobilization of influential streamers around gaming, are disappointed that some of Twitch’s biggest names have been much quieter on other issues. “Where was this energy in time hate raids?” Ask DePass asked (Cypheroftyr), a content creator and activist. “Where is the constant racism, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny on the platform?”
Indeed, content creators seem much quicker to attribute the misfortune to systemic issues this time around. “[Gambling] it’s a platform problem, not a people problem.” he posted on Twitter Devin Nash. “Create the environment for [unaccountable streamers] prosper and they will appear.”
Update 9/20/22 7:28 PM ET.: Twitch announced that in October, the platform will adopt rules regarding gaming streams which ban major sites like Stake.com, with more details to follow.