Earlier this year, the panel on ABC’s Gruen spoke about a dystopian future in which gambling companies take the hundreds of millions of dollars a year they spend on TV advertising and instead start exploiting Australia’s inadequate gambling advertising laws to get TikTok creators to do sponsored content for teens. Scary stuff. But luckily that was just speculation – in the real world we can rest assured knowing that it is already happening in the streaming space, but instead of sports gambling it’s slot machines, and instead of likeable creators it’s some of the worst fuckwits on the planet.
At the end of last year, AFR rich lister Ed Craven launched a website called Kick, and since Australia’s mainstream traditional outlets cant see past their own noses, this didn’t really get any coverage here until midway through this year when he started doing glowing interviews with NewsCorp, The Daily Mail and AFR.
For those of you who don’t know who Craven is (which I assume is most readers), he is a cofounder of an aussie website called Stake.com, which is a crypto based online casino. Combining the dodgy cuntiness of casinos with the dodgy cuntiness of crypto.
Stake dot com grew in popularity by throwing tens of millions of dollars every month to some of the top Twitch Streamers in the world like Adin Ross, XQC and Drake (yes, as in every millennial girl’s third favourite rapper). The deal was simple, usually they would just need to stream a couple days a week playing on Stake’s slot machines in front of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of live viewers. In a weird ‘coincidence’ a lot of these creators have audiences of people who predominantly are not legally old enough to gamble, but don’t worry because they would write “18+” in the titles of the streams.
Clearly there would be no way a teen would watch something when it says “18+” on it.
Sure the slot machine might look like a knock off candy crush and they are seeing their favourite creators get excited when they win money (which can make the viewers also feel a rush), but they said the streams are for 18+ viewers only in the title of the video so legally speaking, it isn’t considered targeted advertising to minors.
Twitch, having taken a stance against the targeting of minors with gambling ads, had left itself open to competition from society’s dregs.
Craven and the marketing team at Stake were not going to let this slide and announced their own competitor to Twitch, called Kick, saying they wanted to give creators more freedom and take down the Amazon owned website (in what will probably be the only time in history where Amazon is the lesser of two evils). Kick of course did this by setting up a website using Amazon’s internet streaming service because clearly beating Twitch and Amazon is their main priority.
Kick immediately grew to be a legitimate competitor in the streaming market by opening the cheque book in a way that no one has seen before in the esports space, signing deals so big that some are literally amongst the biggest sports contracts of all time. One of their biggest streamers XQC signed a deal worth over $100m, a valuation so high that it is more valuable than the deal Lebron Fucking James signed with the LA Lakers.
So even if you don’t know the names of the people I am talking about, hopefully that gives you an idea of how mind-blowingly large the influence of these people are. All of this coincides with a massive spike in gambling addiction amongst kids and teens.
Now, to be clear, not all of these exclusivity contracts demand gambling streams with Stake (although XQC does those), some like Minecrafter Sapnap just sign deals to stream on Kick.
However, those deals are not innocent either; while you watch streams there is a suggested streams tab that users have noticed always seems to suggest streams where people are playing on Stake.com slot machines (unless you or your child manually turns that off in the settings).
One of the major signings was the ‘controversial’ (derogatory) streamer Adin Ross, who is one of the biggest English speaking streamers in the world. When Ross joined Kick, he said that he was personally promised that Kick would let him do whatever he wanted. Since then he has proved that by doing everything from illegally streaming sport, to much more nefarious things like watching porn on stream while his underage fans watch with him, calling for people to kill trans people and bringing on fellow ‘red-pill’ creators like his personal friends alleged sex trafficker Andrew Tate and self-declared nazi Nick Fuentes, a holocaust denier who advocates against interracial relationships.
These are all things that Ross has done on the Australian owned platform, as their most viewed creator while being pushed by Kick and Stake as the face of the platform. In fact Kick founders, like rich-lister Craven, have collaborated directly with his stream multiple times, to really make sure that everyone knows their platform endorses his despicable actions.
The closest thing to a ‘punishment’ he has ever been handed was that Stake would no longer organise a stream where he got to hang out with Drake, because Drake didn’t want to be associated with a guy who brings Nazis on stream. Of course Craven and Kick are still more than happy to throw him millions of dollars every month to be the face of their platform, just as long as he keeps showing his fans how much fun they can have at the online casino.
Whenever a controversy happens, Craven and the Kick team will put out a statement saying they do in fact have content policy guidelines, they just don’t actually enforce them. This sort of brazen disregard for the damage his platform is causing to teens has led to all the mainstream media coverage of his ventures being scathing articles like this one from a few months ago:
I mean I guess it makes sense for the Herald Sun to be praising a power hungry billionaire who helps fund the platforming of white supremacy, that’s, like, Murdoch’s whole thing.
Anyway, the platform hit a new low recently, one that Craven is directly tied into.
On the 23rd of September, two of the biggest fuckwits to have ever walked this earth, Sam Pepper (a man known for sexual assault ‘pranks’) and Ice Poseiden (who is banned from basically every other site) decided to pull a ‘prank’ on a sex worker. This ‘prank’ streamed to over 20k people live, involved having other men hiding in the bathroom while one man started kissing her and preforming sexual acts with her in front of the camera. The sex worker tried to leave following a text she received warning her she was being streamed online, only for the men to block her from leaving. Police later came and arrested the men (who were ultimately let go, because of course they were).
The response from Kick wasn’t to ban these men, instead it was to claim days later that there will be a review into what happened and their policies. Despite them knowing exactly what happened as Ed Craven was watching the entire fucking thing, laughing along in the chat like a fucking psycho.
This dipshit even reportedly donated $500 dollars to this alleged crime in hopes that they would mess with the sex worker who was unknowingly in an unsafe place, by playing loud noises. Honestly, what the fuck is wrong with these people?
Despite this fucking horrific direct involvement by an AFR rich lister, (at the time of writing) there is no mainstream coverage from Australian outlets, nor has there been a response from the e-safety commissioner.
Mainstream traditional media outlets in this country still show the same brazen disregard for online content creators that the rest of the world did 20 years ago. This is a real problem now though, because for young people the online creators are bigger than most TV shows or movies.
This sort of mindset is what helped Andrew Tate grow to become the wannabe Bond villain he is now. He went so unchecked for so long, talking directly to the same teen boys as these creators, with a level of direct influence that traditional celebrities have never had.
There needs to be a proactive response to tracking and covering the rise in this sort of content, and the billionaires like Craven and Musk who encourage it for their own benefit. It shouldn’t be the case that young people know more about what’s going on in the radicalising of teens than the media and politicians.
Unlike other platforms, Kick doesn’t have a bunch of advertisers who can pressure them to do the right thing, and clearly these amoral scumbags won’t just decide to do it themselves. Noise needs to be made about this issue otherwise the lazy old fucks who run the mainstream outlets won’t bother thinking that this is an important story, only noticing when it is way too late. And we know that without them noticing, politicians and the e-safety commissioner definitely won’t notice (although if you want to help the e-safety commissioners notice you can file a complaint here).
Fuck Ed Craven, fuck Kick and fuck those in power who are turning a blind eye to this dangerous bullshit.