A single poker player managed to get the entirety of Twitch blocked across the entirety of the Slovak Republic. Any user with a Slovakian internet connection provided by O2 (or by Radost which O2 owns) woke up this morning to find that opening Twitch.tv in their browser brought back an error page.
The error message reads: “This site is blocked because it is on the list of prohibited sites of the Úrad Pre Reguláciu Hazardných Hier.”
The URHH, translates roughly to the Office for the Regulation of Gambling. Slovakia has a series of laws in place to prohibit any advertising on the part of the gambling industry. It is the role of the URHH to enforce these laws.
However, the URHH did not actually ban the entirety of Twitch. The mass ban appears to have been an error on O2’s part.
Why was Twitch banned?
Checking the URHH’s list of banned sites reveals that the ban only applied to www.twitch.tv/ddandis. O2’s compliance department seems to have left off the end of the full domain, resulting in Twitch going out the window for all their users at once. It may just be that the O2 system does not allow for the blocking of subdomains, in which case they’re going to have to rejig their software ASAP.
These were the laws that popular Twitch streamer, “dDandis,” must have fallen afoul of. The reason for the ban is missing from the official documents. However, the most likely reason is that dDandis streamed the occasional hand of poker.
Usually, his channel is unproblematic (at least in this regard). dDandis’ streams are primarily of the first-person shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. CS:GO is popular with some poker players. Doug Polk has started a professional team to play the game competitively. It would appear that popularity flows both ways.
Twitch is problematic for the URHH due to the enormous quantity of gambling material on there. But for the most part, the games of chance and skill can be ignored as long as neither Twitch nor the streamer is based within the borders of Slovakia. dDandis is Slovakian.
The ban may also relate to as yet unconfirmed reports by the Slovak media of sports betting taking place in dDandis’ Discord server.
O2 fixed the error a few hours later as complaints started to pour in. Thousands of people use Twitch in Slovakia every day. Watching esports and hyper-sexualised ASMR are as popular there as anywhere else.
This is not the first time Twitch has run into poker-related trouble. Last year they forced poker players to delete thousands of hours of footage that violated copyright. More recently, another poker player ran into a similar snag after he failed to use Twitch’s Soundtrack app correctly.
Featured image source: Flickr by Thomas Quine