Turkey Bans Twitch and Kick Amid Gambling Concerns

A Bold Move in Digital Content Regulation

Turkey Bans Twitch and Kick Amid Gambling Concerns
Image Credits: Twitch/KICK

Turkey has officially banned the popular live streaming platforms Twitch and Kick. This decision, rooted in gambling concerns, marks a significant moment in the ongoing debate about digital content regulation and its impact on the global esports ecosystem.

 

The story began to unfold on February 21, 2024, when rumors of Kick's ban in Turkey started circulating across social media platforms. Renowned journalist Ibrahim Haskoloğlu shed light on the situation, reporting that Turkish officials had targeted Kick for allegedly luring the country's youth into gambling activities, specifically roulette. This accusation led to a swift governmental response, culminating in the platform's ban.

 

Merely two days after Kick's prohibition, the Turkish National Lottery Association extended this drastic measure to Twitch, Kick's main competitor. Haskoloğlu revealed that the Information and Communication Technologies Authority in Turkey (BTK) would enforce the ban, following an investigation into Twitch prompted by reports from Kick broadcasters. These reports accused Twitch of hosting content similar to that which led to Kick's ban, blurring the lines between entertainment and illicit gambling activities.

 

In Turkey, gambling is not merely frowned upon; it is classified as a misdemeanor. The act of facilitating gambling, by providing a venue or opportunity, escalates to a criminal offense. This legal framework has positioned the Turkish government as a stringent regulator of digital spaces, with a history of imposing access bans on websites deemed to violate national laws.

 

A report by the Istanbul-based Freedom of Expression Association (İFÖD) highlighted the extent of this practice, noting that approximately 137,717 websites were banned in Turkey in 2022 alone.

 

The ban on Twitch and Kick raises critical questions about the future of live streaming, content creation, and community engagement within the esports industry, particularly in Turkey. These platforms have been instrumental in the global rise of esports, offering gamers and fans a space to connect, share, and celebrate their passion for gaming.