The official release of the gambling-friendly Kick streaming service on iOS has confirmed speculations that the founders of cryptocurrency casino Stake.com own the company. The connection raises ethical questions.
This revelation came to light when the full name of Kick, listed as Kick Streaming Pty Ltd, was displayed on iOS. Registered in Australia in November 2022, the sole owner of Kick Streaming is Easygo Entertainment Pty Ltd, and its director Brais Pena.
A deeper investigation reveals that Easygo Entertainment Pty Ltd was established only a few months prior, in August 2022. Records indicate that Bijan Tehrani, one of Stake’s founders, owns a 2/3 stake in Easygo. The remaining share is held by Ashwood Holdings Pty Ltd, which Ed Craven, the other founder of Stake, solely owns.
It’s important to clarify that while its founders own Kick, Stake.com as an entity is not directly affiliated with the streaming service. But their complicated relationship is yet to be completely unveiled.
A Background on Kick and Stake
Tehrani and Craven created Stake in 2017. The online casino operates through a license in Curacao and uses cryptocurrency. Many might recognize Stake from sponsorship deals with rapper Drake, the UFC, English soccer clubs, and the Alpha Romeo F1 team.
We don’t recommend playing at offshore sites (including cryptocasinos), and Stake’s international product does not accept US users in any case. However, Stake has an alternative product for US citizens. Stake.US uses a sweepstakes model similar to other social casino sites like Chumba in order to stay on the right side of federal gambling laws.
Meanwhile, Kick is an online streaming platform that launched in December 2022. Since then, it has steadily gained viewers and aims to challenge Twitch.
Kick has already attracted several famous Twitch streamers, like:
- Adin Ross
- Hikaru Nakamura
- Tyler “Trainwreck” Niknam
The platform aims to attract streamers by offering a 95-5 revenue split (streamers keep 95% of revenue). Meanwhile, Twitch has a 50-50 split. Kick also has looser rules and promotes the streaming of gambling.
Stake Is Facing Lawsuits, Bans From Many Countries
Stake’s popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed. The company is facing a $400 million lawsuit by a former associate. The plaintiff seeks punitive damages for his involvement in the company that preceded Stake. He claims that he was not allowed to join Stake before it launched.
Cryptocurrency is a gray area in gambling, so many countries have decided to ban Stake. As well as the US, these include the United Kingdom, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain. Aside from the currency, these countries state security concerns.
However, Stake.com has faced criticism for not having sufficient safeguards to block access from those countries.
Kick Is Growing Fast, But Is It Sustainable Long-Term?
Kick has cleverly offered non-exclusive deals to its streamers, allowing them to maintain their Twitch channels while gradually transitioning their subscribers to Kick. The platform has also successfully introduced niche categories such as “Hot Tub” and “Just Chatting.”
However, the question is how the company generates revenue. Kick advertises a 5% charge on creators’ income, significantly lower than Twitch. Streamers also keep all tips. The rate is also lower than the 30% YouTube charges is creators, like its live slot streamers. Kick also displays fewer ads, but the company’s profitability remains elusive.
Many speculate that Kick primarily serves as a promotional tool for Stake and other offshore casinos, financially supporting the platform. Evidence of the relationship between Kick and Stake.com showed when Kick’s logo appeared on the Alfa Romeo cars during an F1 race in Australia instead of Stake’s. Due to Australia’s strict gambling advertising regulations, Stake was likely prohibited from being displayed on the vehicles.
Regardless of the exact nature of their relationship, one thing is clear: the long-term legal sustainability of Kick remains uncertain.
Are Kick’s Policies Too Relaxed?
In recent years, the popularity of gambling streaming skyrocketed, with slots becoming Twitch’s seventh most popular category. Consequently, offshore casinos like Stake.com began sponsoring prominent streamers, such as Trainwreck.
However, in September 2022, Twitch implemented a policy change to prohibit streaming from casinos deemed illegal in the US. Instead, Twitch’s new gambling policy shifted focus to sports betting, fantasy sports, and poker.
This development presented an opportunity for Kick to capitalize on the situation. The slots and casino category quickly became the most watched on Kick. Most top streamers are playing at Stake.com, further proving the relationship. Viewers can witness these streamers winning or losing hundreds of thousands in a single spin, but no messages or other indicators promote responsible gambling.
Moreover, nearly all top slot streamers on Kick offer promo codes to Stake.com or other offshore casinos. This practice could potentially cause legal issues for the streaming platform, especially given that most of its viewers are from the US.
Another evidence of the relaxed policies is when one of Kick’s most popular streamers, Adin Ross, illegally streamed the Super Bowl to 100,000 viewers. Although not yet confirmed, many speculate that the NFL may be considering legal action against Kick and Ross for millions of dollars.