Amazon-owned livestreaming platform Twitch has added two more online casinos to its list of websites users are prohibited from streaming.
In September last year, the platform announced it would ban users from streaming content from four gambling websites, namely Stake.com, Rollbit.com, Duelbits.com and Roobet.com.
Now, that list has been expanded with the addition of two crypto-focused, Curaçao-registered operators in Blaze and Gamdom.
In addition to the ban on those websites, Twitch has also updated its community guidelines to explicitly prohibit the promotion or sponsorship of skins gambling websites for esports such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive.
Twitch originally implemented its ban on the first group of offshore operators after a controversy on the platform saw a streamer accused of scamming users on the platform to fuel a gambling addiction.
In response, Twitch vowed to ban online operators that weren’t “licensed either in the US or in other jurisdictions that provide sufficient consumer protection.”
This week, in a post on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), the company said: “Our goal now, as it was last fall, is to protect our community, address predatory behavior, and make Twitch safer.”
Twitch has also claimed that after implementing the new gambling policy last year, its viewership in the gambling vertical had fallen by around 75%.
It has also, however, “observed some new trends,” it said, and is in the process of updating its policies to better protect users.
Twitch continues to allow streaming from websites that focus on sports betting, fantasy sports and poker.
In June, CEO Dan Clancy insisted the company had “no problem” with users streaming regulated gambling activity.
The German gambling regulator, GGL, has expressed confidence in its capacity to crack down on black market operators.
The regulator presented its inaugural annual report yesterday (29 June) and revealed it has identified more than 200 unlicensed operators targeting German players.
More than 60% of those are operating out of Curaçao.
To provide players with a clear distinction between regulated and offshore gambling websites, the authority unveiled a new “verification and permit seal” that operators will be required to display on their websites from 1 July 2023.
Co-CEO Ronald Benter (pictured) said the new seal would ensure “more transparency”, while his colleague Benjamin Schwanke emphasised the absence of the seal would indicate an illegal offering.
The GGL currently maintains a whitelist consisting of 142 providers offering online slot games, online poker, sports and horse betting, as well as various lotteries.
Additionally, 45 applications remain pending and are being reviewed at the moment.
The GGL also disclosed that it is dealing with more than 100 ongoing court cases related to German Interstate Treaty provisions and permits issued by the regulator.
Last week, iGaming NEXT reported that the GGL acknowledged the presence of a significant number of lawsuits, primarily focusing on advertising and player protection regulations filed by operators.
Nevertheless, the regulator emphasised that recent rulings have bolstered the existing player protection measures, including the GGL’s strict stance on affiliate marketing.
“We look back on a successful first half of 2023. We will continue on the path of consistent enforcement of regulations in permit issuance and supervision,” Benter said.
“Initial court decisions confirm our approach. At the same time, we remain in dialogue with the industry regarding new challenges,” he added.
The GGL also shared market figures. Previously published statistics covering sports betting handle sparked a debate between the German Sports Betting Association and the regulator.
According to the GGL, Germany’s regulated gambling market generated GGR of approximately €13.4bn in 2022.
This figure includes revenue from operators already on the whitelist, as well as €0.8bn attributed to companies that were awaiting their licence approval at that time.
The figures are based on reports submitted by operators to the relevant regulatory authorities, as well as the tax statistics from the tax authorities.
Online gambling accounted for 19% of the total, while GGL-regulated operators generated GGR of €3.5bn, roughly a quarter of the total €13.4bn. The remainder came from the land-based sector.
Of this, sports betting accounted for the largest portion, amounting to €1.4bn.
The black market
The German regulator had identified 207 unlicensed operators in the country offering gambling services through 843 German language websites at the end of 2022.
Of these operators, 136 offer multiple forms of gambling, while the remaining 71 specialise in just one activity.
According to the GGL, 37 work from within the EU and 147 are based outside.
With 132 operators, Curaçao licensees represent the majority of non-EU organisations.
However, 23 operators could not be traced to any country.
The GGL said that it estimates that unregulated operators account for a “market volume between €300m and €500m, primarily generated from illegal secondary lotteries, online casino games, virtual slot games, and sports betting”.
This corresponds to approximately 2% to 4% of the regulated market.
Mixed results, meanwhile, have been observed in the enforcement efforts of the GGL.
The GGL revealed that to date it has conducted checks on over 2,000 websites to identify instances of illegal gambling and illegal advertising.
Until the end of 2022, the GGL reviewed 1,150 sites, leading to over 157 proceedings for illegal gambling and 157 proceedings for illegal advertising.
In the area of payment blocking, the GGL has found that many payment service providers, especially banks, actively cooperate in implementing the prohibition. Typically, these providers respond promptly during hearings and block payments to unlicensed operators, the regulator stated.
On the other hand, the GGL has initiated six IP blocking proceedings against prominent internet providers.
However, the regulator acknowledged that the legal basis for this measure has faced some critical views from courts.
Furthermore, the GGL has revealed that Jorg Sibbel, the current chair, will be succeeded by Udo Götze, the state secretary in the Thuringian Ministry of the Interior and Municipal Affairs, starting from 1 July.
This transition aligns with the regulatory requirements in Germany, where the leadership of the organisation changes annually on the 1 July.
Each chairman is selected by a German state, following an alphabetical rotation.
However, iGaming NEXT has received information indicating that additional leadership changes are forthcoming, including within the GGL’s licensing department, while co-CEO Schwanke’s contract is also coming to an end.
This has raised concerns in industry circles that it may lead to a temporary slowdown in the GGL’s licensing operations.
When contacted by iGaming NEXT for comment, the GGL said it generally does not comment on personal changes.
The GGL stated in its annual report that it aims to process all outstanding applications by the end of 2023 to establish an attractive legal gambling market.
Co-CEO Schwanke concluded that the authority is “confident in successfully curbing the illegal gambling market”.
He said: “No challenge is too small for us, and we are not intimidated by major players. We have established the necessary structures and processes and can build upon the work and expertise of the authorities previously involved.”
Americans wager over half a trillion dollars ($511bn) on unlicensed gambling each year, according to a new report from the American Gaming Association (AGA).
According to the AGA, the amount of money wagered with unlicensed bookies, offshore operators, and unregulated gaming machines would generate some $44.2bn in revenue for regulated gaming operators and around $13.3bn in tax revenue if channeled through the legal market.
Online slots and table games account for the lion’s share of unlicensed US gambling spend, with an estimated annual handle of $337.9bn.
The iGaming vertical alone would generate an additional $13.5bn in revenue and contribute $3.9bn to state coffers if players switched to regulated operators, according to the study.
That means the majority of iGaming spend in the US is still going to offshore and unlicensed operators, as estimates for 2022 show the legalised iGaming market is set to generate a comparatively feeble $4.8bn in revenue for licensed operators.
Unregulated gambling machines in land-based establishments such as bars, convenience stores and unlicensed gambling halls also see some $109.2bn wagered on them each year, generating estimated revenue of $26.9bn outside the regulated market.
That costs state governments around $8.7bn in tax revenue annually, states the survey.
For online sports betting, while the figures are more modest, the AGA determined that US bettors still wager some $63.8bn with unlicensed bookies and sportsbooks each year, costing the regulated market around $3.8bn in revenue and states around $700m in unpaid taxes.
The numbers become even more stark when compared to the size of the legal, regulated US market.
While illegal gambling is thought to cost the public purse a total of $13.3bn in uncollected taxes, the combined regulated US gambling market contributed $11.7bn in taxes in 2021.
Meanwhile regulated operators are missing out on some $44.2bn in annual revenue – nearly half of the $92bn revenue generated by regulated commercial and tribal operators combined in 2021.
AGA President and CEO Bill Miller: “Illegal and unregulated gambling is a scourge on our society, taking advantage of vulnerable consumers, skirting regulatory obligations and robbing communities of critical tax revenue for infrastructure, education and more.”
As for unregulated gaming machines, there are an estimated 581,000 in the US – compared to 870,000 regulated machines in casinos and other licensed establishments. That means some 40% of all gaming machines in the US are unlicensed.
That should be concerning news for players. Based on state regulatory data, regulated slots in Nevada offer a return-to-player (RTP) of some 93%, the RTP on unlicensed gaming machines is thought to be closer to 75%.
“Illegal and unregulated gambling is a scourge on our society, taking advantage of vulnerable consumers, skirting regulatory obligations and robbing communities of critical tax revenue for infrastructure, education and more,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller.
“We have always known that the illegal and unregulated market is expansive, but this report illuminates just how pervasive it is.
“All stakeholders – policymakers, law enforcement, regulators, legal businesses – must work together to root out the illegal and unregulated gambling market. This is a fight we’re in for the long haul to protect consumers, support communities and defend the law-abiding members of our industry.”
Estimates in the report were based primarily on a survey of more than 5,000 Americans and their gambling habits, together with existing data on gaming participation rates and the known size of the regulated US gambling market.