Breaking down Trainwrecks’ rant on gambling legality

Kenneth Williams • July 14, 2021 10:15 pm

On July 13, Trainwrecks opened up his stream with a wandering but surprisingly poignant analysis of gamblers using VPNs to access foreign casinos.

The legality and morality of gambling have become hot topics on Twitch. Streaming icons like Tyler “Trainswreckstv” Niknam and Félix “xQc” Lengyelhave have streamed themselves gambling hundreds of thousands of dollars in online casinos. Trainwrecks, who claims to have lost more than $2 million through online gambling, recently shared his scattered thoughts on legality with his viewers.

His chat’s response was skeptical at best and confused at worst. To someone unfamiliar with gambling legality, it’s difficult to parse what Trainwrecks had to say. However, most of what he says actually lines up with real gambling laws.

Betting websites have an obligation as part of their licensing agreements to prevent illegal customers from using their site. The most common method is to simply block users connecting from countries that the betting site’s license doesn’t cover. For example, an online casino license by the Malta Gaming Authority must prevent American bettors from using their site.

However, savvy internet users can use a number of methods of bypassing location-based blocks. Virtual private networks can trick the website into thinking a user lives in their licensed region. In the case of the Americans using a VPN to access a Malta-licensed gambling site, the site itself has not done anything legally wrong. It is the users who are circumventing the process.

The illegality falls solely on the user, but whether or not spoofing your address in order to gamble online is legal can depend on other factors. In the case of the United States, it is legal to gamble online in some states but not in others. Legal methods of gambling can also vary between regions. 

In Trainwrecks’ example, a gambler from Texas using a VPN to spoof their address for a non-USA licensed betting site is technically not breaking any laws. It would violate the terms of service of the gambling site, but the site would also be innocent of any wrongdoing. Trainwrecks’ scattered example of the complexity of betting laws was essentially accurate despite the odd phrasing. 


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