Over 7,000 internet subforums (or “subreddits”) on Reddit – including several for the gambling community – have switched from public to private in protest over site policy changes. Bonus found the popular r/poker and three other subreddits dedicated to specific games participating in the Reddit blackout.
The en masse switch from public to private caused technical difficulties for Reddit. It suffered roughly two and a half hours of downtime on June 12, the first day of the protest.
Moderators for some of the participating subreddits have said they will remain private for 48 hours, reverting the change on June 14. Others have said they will keep their communities private indefinitely unless Reddit backs away from its new policies.
The protest organizers have created a dedicated subreddit to explain the protest and their demands.
What is the Reddit Blackout About?
Reddit is struggling with the same issue as many social media companies: Monetization. Like Twitter, Reddit is extremely popular, but a majority of its users have no intention of paying to use it and are resentful of ads.
For Reddit, that problem manifests in particular with its mobile app. It has kept its application programming interface (API) free to access for the past seven years. That meant third-party companies could make their own apps to access Reddit’s content and post to the site.
Those apps helped build the community. Many of these have fewer ads and more features – like moderation tools – than the official Reddit app. Over time, that has hurt user adoption of the official app. Reddit responded with an announcement that it would begin charging for API access. The rates it proposed would amount to millions of dollars per month for some of the most popular third-party apps.
Critics say the change will kill most third-party apps entirely – and Reddit in the process. They’re also worried that additional restrictions alongside the monetization change will impact communities dedicated to adult content. In that regard, the Reddit protest resembles the ongoing fallout facing Twitch, as its efforts to clamp down on certain content – like unregulated gambling – are driving users to its rival, Kick.
Reddit’s volunteer moderators have been making their subreddits private to illustrate what that loss of community would look like and straining Reddit’s servers in the process. The content on private subreddits is only visible to logged-in users who were already members of the group before the switch. Since much of Reddit’s traffic comes via Google search rather than group members, the effect is to make large sections of the site appear blacked out.
Which Gambling Subreddits Are Private?
One of the biggest gambling subreddits, r/poker, has gone dark. With around 240,000 subscribers, it’s one of the most important gathering places for the online poker community.
However, the broadest gambling subreddit, r/gambling, appears not to have elected to participate. It remains visible to the general public as well as its 85,000 subscribers. So do r/sportsbetting (227,000 subscribers) and r/sportsbook (352,000 subscribers).
Smaller subreddits focused on particular gambling topics are likewise a mixed bag. Most are operating normally, but a few have joined the protest. Some have even changed their descriptions to reflect the reason for becoming private.
Here are the four now-private subreddits, their number of subscribers, and the messages they present to would-be visitors:
- r/poker (240,000): Shuffle up and deal! Official subreddit for all things poker.
- r/blackjack (36,000): Like many other subreddits, we’re going dark out of protest to Reddit’s scheme to do away with third-party apps by charging absurd prices for API access. It’s a real shame they did this. They’re going to kill this site.
- r/craps (13,000): Currently private to protest Reddit’s API changes.
- r/roulette (3,500): Welcome to /r/roulette! Use this community to share your experiences playing roulette. Rien ne va plus. [translation: “No more bets.”]
Although not, strictly speaking, a gambling subreddit, r/crypto is another important, gambling-adjacent participant. It has just under 200,000 subscribers and confirms it will be private for 48 hours.
Some smaller gambling subreddits notably not participating: r/slots, r/baccarat, r/casino, and r/videopoker.