Why Is New Streaming Service Kick So Controversial?

A $100 million deal. That’s how much Félix Lengyel is now getting paid to live stream on Kick. This dude is officially getting more money than LeBron James to chat, vibe, and play video games. 

Now, if you’ve never heard of him, Félix Lengyel is a celebrity on Twitch. For the past several years, Lengyel has been the most successful live streamer on the platform. In May of 2023, he had an average of 51,959 concurrent viewers per stream. 

Félix Lengyel
Image: Félix Lengyel

So, why is Félix Lengyel moving to Kick? Is it just for the money? Or is something more nefarious afoot? Let’s dive right into the details.

What Is Kick?

Like Twitch and YouTube Live, Kick is a service that allows the general public to stream themselves to an audience. These live streams typically involve folks playing video games or chatting with their mates.

Kick’s homepage
Image: Kick

However, there are a few key differences between Kick and its competitors. For instance, Kick has the most generous revenue split. This means that if a person gets paid by their audience to stream, they’ll receive 95% of said revenue, with Kick taking just a 5% cut. For comparison, Twitch’s split is 70/30.

What’s more, Kick is currently offering its streamers non-exclusive contracts. This means that the likes of Félix Lengyel can still stream on Twitch. This type of flexibility is unheard of. 

At this point, Kick might seem like the best platform ever. However, there’s more to this story than meets the eye.  

The Origins of Kick

In 2022, Twitch banned gambling on its platform. This is because a whack of streamers, including Félix Lengyel, were playing slot machine games for their primarily young audiences. Some streamers were getting sponsored to gamble for hours and hours on end. 

Now, it shouldn’t need to be said, but this type of child-based advertising is bad. Slot machines are highly addictive and, according to the Australian Government, one in six people who often play the pokies develop an addiction. Therefore, if a streamer inspires a kid to pick up this habit, it could very well ruin their life.

In a statement regarding this matter, Twitch said, “Last year, in order to address scams and other harms stemming from questionable gambling sites, we prohibited sharing links or referral codes to sites that include slots, roulette, or dice games. After monitoring the update’s impact for the last year, as well as hearing directly from you, it became clear that some people were circumventing those rules, and that further steps were necessary.

“Starting 18 October, we are further tightening our rules to also prohibit any streaming of listed sites that contain slots, roulette, and dice games…This updated policy applies to all global community members.”

This gambling ban impacted Stake, an Australian-Curaçaoan crypto casino. Before October last year, Twitch streamers were using bitcoin to play Stake’s digital slot machines. 

Stake’s homepage
Image: Stake

So, in response to this ban, did Stake get mad? No. They instead went off and founded their own platform. 

In December of 2022, Kick became a reality. It was financially backed by Bijan Tehrani and Ed Craven, the co-founders of Stake. 

What followed wasn’t surprising in the slightest.

Why Is Kick so Controversial?

Kick is controversial because it allows people to live stream gambling games. What’s more, a lot of these streams advertise Stake’s slot machine services.

Kick’s Slots & Casino page
Image: Kick

On 19 June, three of the top “Slots & Casino” streamers were offering Stake promo codes. These streams and codes are meant to be 18+, but they can be easily accessed by anyone of any age.

Kick Stake code
Image: Kick

Before Twitch banned gambling streams, Félix Lengyel did a lot of work for Stake. He has also admitted that he has had a gambling problem.

In April of 2022, Lengyel said, “I just shouldn’t gamble. I still do it. Is that good? No, it’s terrible. It’s an illness! It’s an illness. I’m ill.”

As of 19 June, Lengyel hasn’t confirmed or denied if he’d gamble on Kick. Let’s just hope that he’s in recovery. Let’s hope that his $100 million doesn’t get thrown in the bin.

Related: Is Melbourne Cup Day Rough For Problem Gamblers?

Related: Facial Recognition Tech Is Scanning Australia’s Gamblers 

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