Sodapoppin Criticized for BetOnline Ads on Twitch Livestream
Chance Morris, known on Twitch as Sodapoppin, is being criticized on Reddit for his BetOnline.com ads. Morris, one of the most popular streamers on Twitch, has discussed games like World of Warcraft on Twitch for years.
During that time, Sodapoppin (pictured right) also discussed his gambling hobby. Morris made no secret that he gambled on online casinos. In earlier years, he did not advertise online casinos when he focused on blackjack.
That changed this week as Sodapoppin delivered an ad for BetOnline Casino late in one of his live streams, though the ad was not properly identified for several hours. For an ad to follow Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines about being a paid advertisement, it needs the #ad or #sponsored identifier in the title of the post.
Reddit members had a hot-topic debate about the livestream in a subreddit. Many focused on the fact Sodapoppin’s Twitch feed is visited by underage viewers, so a gambling advertisement would be inappropriate for his audience. Some fans expressed outrage. Others expressed wonderment that Soda, who presumably makes millions via streaming, would risk his wealth for $10,000 in free money from BetOnline.
Still others defended the Twitch star, saying he only took house money to play and they saw nothing wrong with what he did. Soda faces backlash from several angles: from Twitch, from his fans, and from the FTC.
Measures by Twitch and fan backlash might cost Soda money, but the FTC could cause him legal troubles. A new set of FTC rules dictate how Americans can tout gambling sites. The rules stem from YouTube and Twitch streamers who touted Counter-Strike: Global Offensive skin-gambling sites. CS:GO players who played Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on Steam could go to third-party sites to gamble on skins — weapons that characters use in CS:GO.
Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Tom “ProSyndicate” Cassel touted a site called CSGOLotto on their popular YouTube channel. In the videos, they would show themselves winning bets on the CSGOLotto, but they never told viewers they owned the website. The videos showed how easy it was to win, never saying that the video was edited and the game was rigged.
Trevor Martin and Tom Cassel eventually had their YouTube channels shut down and they faced criminal charges on FTC violations in the United States. When the judgment came, they received minor punishment for their crimes. The FTC and YouTube changed policies to assure transparency among streamers in the future, while providing stronger consequences for those who broke the rules.
FTC Act’s Section 5 Rules
Now, streamer, Instagram stars, and other social media influencers must disclose any paid relationship or ownership interest in a product they sell. Also, the influencer must place #ad or #sponsored in the title of any post which touts a product.
The FTC Act’s Section 5 states anyone not doing so can be charged with deceptive advertising. Twitch changed its rules to conform to the Section 5, so those failing to comply can be kicked off the platform — thus losing a valuable source of revenue.
Sodapoppin’s BetOnline Ad
Chance Morris never touted skins, because that was never his preference. Instead, Sodapoppin discussed blackjack. He even had a blackjack dealer deal him a hand while he talked to the audience. Sites like BetOnline.com advertised on Sodapoppin’s stream.
This past weekend, Sodapoppin’s Twitch feed went for several hours without the #ad distinction or other indications it was a paid advertisement. The sponsorship details were added later, while the YouTube channel noted, “Sodapoppin is sponsored by Betonline.”
On Reddit, the livestreamfails subreddit discussed Sodapoppin’s sponsorship by Betonline and reached 9,000 upvotes. Soda fans were outraged that he did not disclose the gambling relationship, while some wondered why he needed the sponsorship in the first place.
As an example of the vitriol posted on the subreddit, one commenter wrote, “Streaming has for sure made Soda a wealthy man, is the money he received from this sketchy ass website really worth jeopardizing your community.”
Another Reddit poster defended Soda’s conduct, saying, “Still better than some sponsored gaming session. He could make much-much more by playing some mobile game that no one enjoys watching. Instead he accepted a gambling sites offer. He would gamble there anyway, why would he ignore some free money? He’s enjoying, viewers are enjoying it, everyone wins…All he did was accepted free money.”
BetOnline is an online casino, sportsbook, and poker room which serves the US and international gambling community. The site has weathered a controversy or two, such as the live stream which revealed a dealer breaking the rules of the game. Card players have made claims about bots on the site, though many poker players have made such claims about online card rooms.
Reddit posters suggested BetOnline is a scam site, but as far as US-friendly online casinos, its reputation does not stand out from the crowd as a scam site. Many of Soda’s followers prefer non-gambling games, so their knowledge of the industry might be limited. Newsweek tried to contact Chance Morris and BetOnline about the Reddit controversy, but neither commented for the story.