GUEST POST by Josh Bray. Read about more about Angry Joe HERE.

In the arena of online games coverage, it is not uncommon for people to explore multiple areas of income to sustain themselves. With things such as Twitch subscriptions, Patreon, and promotional partnerships with publishers and developers, the ways creative people can make a buck from their work is as varied as the internet that delivers their content. However, with all the new ways to raise money, some people have not forgotten tried and true methods such as raffles.

Raffles have been used throughout history as a way to fund organizational needs. They can be viewed as a type of lottery or gambling, and some states in the U.S. have put strict regulations on raffles to ensure that they are run properly and for good causes.

One such state is Texas, when on January 1, 1990, The Charitable Raffle Enabling Act was enacted. The aim of this act is to keep raffles to only two per year, and it restricts them to only charitable organizations.IdacTiN - Imgur

More info on The Charitable Raffle Enabling Act can be found here as well as see the full text of the law here:

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Mentioning Texas State law is not an arbitrarily selected case as you can likely tell from the headline. As reported by William Usher here, AngryJoe has run a potentially unauthorized raffle to raise money in 2013. You likely know the Austin, TX based web personality from his reviews and other videos on YouTube, and from the Angry Joe Army gaming community. Joe and his circle of friends in Texas have worked to grow the income generated from this venture in many creative ways. One such way was a raffle for a PS4 held in November 2013, the details of which can be found here (backup).

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In this raffle, members of the Angry Joe Army gaming community were able to get a chance at a PS4 for a $5 ticket, and “all funds received from [the] contest event [were to be] put 100% into the community – to send [participants] out to competitive events fully paid for, to offer the money back in prize tournaments for the various games we play and to keep the community strong and healthy.”

On the raffle page itself you can still see evidence of when Angry Joe decided to cut the raffle off early, stating he had “. . . no idea that it would be this successful or that this many people would want to join in. It’s the first time we ever ran any contest like this and we’ve learned much from it.” The raffle winner was supposed to be selected on November 21, but they ended it early on November 18 due to this reason. While being poorly organized is one issue, being negligent of the law is another. I do hope they have since learned their lesson.

What gets more interesting in this particular case is where two of Angry Joe’s right hand men work, Angry Joe’s administration team and AJ Army “Council” members Chris “Tons0Fun” Carley and Dustin “SgtRoss” Ross. Both happen to live in Austin, TX and coincidently both work in the gambling/casino industry. According to their Linkedin profiles, both presently work at Multimedia Games, Inc. (NASDAQ: MGAM) as a QA analyst and Test Technician respectively:

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Multimedia Games, Inc. “. . . is a leading supplier of interactive systems, electronic games, and player terminals for the Native American gaming market, and the growing racino, charity bingo and video lottery markets,” which would seem to put these two gentlemen in a bad spot if found to be running raffles deemed illegal gambling under the law.

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(Linkedin profiles : https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=39808987&authType=NAME_SEARCH&authToken=w2or&locale=en_US&srchid=839309651417567672860&srchindex=8&srchtotal=35&trk=vsrp_people_res_name&trkInfo=VSRPsearchId%3A839309651417567672860%2CVSRPtargetId%3A39808987%2CVSRPcmpt%3Aprimary [Tons0Fun] and https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=287416546&authType=NAME_SEARCH&authToken=Qeus&locale=en_US&srchid=839309651417567862458&srchindex=1&srchtotal=1&trk=vsrp_people_res_name&trkInfo=VSRPsearchId%3A839309651417567862458%2CVSRPtargetId%3A287416546%2CVSRPcmpt%3Aprimary [SgtRoss])

It is not my intent to imply direct, premeditated wrong doing in this case. Instead, my goal is to illustrate how careful you need to be when fundraising for your business, or organization. In the case of Angry Joe’s raffles, under the definition of the law, one could be subjecting his/herself to fines and/or jail time.

The lesson in hindsight being always research your decisions when it comes to your business. A simple search for “Texas Laws on Raffles” brought me to the Texas Attorney General’s site detailing their restrictions on raffles. A little due diligence beforehand can save you a load of headaches and possible legal issues. A mistake can be written off as a mistake, and lesson learned. A pattern of poor choices will start to alienate your audience and make your business look bad.

Questionable raffles are not the only thing that has landed AngryJoe in the center of scrutiny by fans and former viewers of his content. There have been complaints surrounding the amount of promotional content being made by AngryJoe, as well as issues with fully disclosing these connections at the time he publishes his content.

Recording promotional content, content where one is paid for their coverage, is not an uncommon or necessarily bad thing. With a personality people trust, and upfront plain disclosure, paid promotional content is a great way for companies to connect directly to an audience in my view. Issues arises when content creators are not putting prominent disclaimers in these promotional pieces.

Or, as in the case with AngryJoe, having trouble actually disclosing this information in the first place at the time of publication. In fact the FTC has regulations and guidelines regarding just this issue:

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This lack of disclosure on paid promotional videos is not intentional I believe. Far from it, as Joe himself states “Honestly I’ve been pretty bad with remembering to label my videos with the disclaimer, originally when these opportunities came I didnt think many of us even knew about the FTC and their guidelines. Ive been just one dude on youtube trying to do the work of several trying to keep up with and compete with IGN and Gamespot day in and day out on YT pretty much myself (1-man operation) I hadn’t caught up with it. And I should have been better about it. Sorry.”(Source)

Since then he has gone back and put this lazy boilerplate disclaimer in older videos: “This is a promotional video for X, I was compensated for my time and effort. In any/all promo material I agree to [LetsPlay’s or 1st Impressions only], I ensure I have full rights contractually to give my impressions and opinions without restriction, influence or censorship. – AngryJoe

It is great that he realizes his mistakes and is sorry for them, yet he displayed more ignorance of the career he chosen to stake his livelihood on. That comment regarding disclaimers was made one month ago, yet AngryJoe has been making video content since at least 2009. The one man operation statement is a bit of a misnomer as well, having a whole “field command” for his “army” which is listed here.

AngryJoe has been going to E3 for years. He has colleagues and a network of people made of content producers, games development and publisher personnel, and PR in the industry. I will accept his answer of ignorance on disclaimers for paid promotional, but will lay down the allegation he is a very poor business person for not even thinking to look up or ask about the legality of paid promotional content disclosure.

To me it is a little shocking that he has produced content for 5 years and never thought of the FTC or thought to question how he should approach paid promotions. The FTC had recently clarified their disclosure rules to be more clear, but these regulations had been there nonetheless. This is not something he should have been looking into after producing content for so long.

As a sound business owner he should have asked around, or searched, for ways to approach these from the first paid promotional offer he took. Not months after the fact and over a dozen promotional videos later when someone on reddit points it out to you. It is not the job of random people on the internet to do your due diligence. It is up to YOU as the business operator.

Poor decision making can tarnish your brand in the eyes of your fans and potential investors. As seen by the fracturing of support in his community, things like these can hurt your image. Even if being shady in your dealings is not the pre motivated intent, the implication can still wreck your brand image. Learn from AngryJoe. Don’t be so ignorant of your business that you border on the illegal.

20 comments
  1. I never liked AJ. He’s loud and obnoxious in his videos, and until last year (when he got a PS4), 90% of his videos were Xbox 360 games (both exclusives and non-exclusive) and the remaining 10% were PC games. Dude has never spotlighted any games on PS3, PSP, Wii, WiiU, Vita, DS, or 3DS.

    How the hell do you call yourself a game reviewer when you barely review anything not stamped with MS’ logo on it?

    1. While I agree he took part in an illegal raffle, I do have to defend you from claiming, implicitly he is a fanboy.

      He doesn’t OWN those consoles. Keep in mind, His channel only exploded in the last handful of years, far too late to warrant buying additional non-current gen consoles. He has also rectified this, in buying a PS4, and has REPEATEDLY slagged on the Xbox One.

      Also, Citation needed for your clear Hyperbole about 90% of his reviews being Xbox 360 games.

      If you are going to insult him, at least insult him with actual facts and well reasoned arguments.

      (Disclaimer: I think Joe is an obnoxious git, that doesn’t excuse making shit up)

      1. Go look at his videos up until he got a PS4. Almost every game is either exclusive to the 360, or it is the 360 port of a multiplatform game. The remainder of the games he reviewed were on PC. That’s not hyperbole.

        Also, his channel has been huge for the past few years. There’s no way the dude couldn’t have afforded to buy a fucking PS3 or a WiiU. Shit, he could have asked Sony and they would have showered him with games. Game companies LOVE the free publicity from YT celebs. Both Sony and MS wined and dined Boogie 2988, just short of having Ken Kutaragi and Bill Gates fly to his house and give him a blowjob.

        1. Right, so your counter to me asking for a citation, is to say “Look it up” in essence? You provided the ‘fact’, the burden of proof for that is on you. How about going through his videos and making a list of them, and what platform they were on? (Note, you CAN use a controller with the PC sooooo if you are basing it on that, you are gonna have problems)

          Also, PR is famous for HATING youtubers. It is only a recent phenomena for them to start courting them. hell, Capcom STILL hates them (Just look up them Copyright Striking so many people)

    2. Joe’s show was decently written and performed until a year ago, roughly. The skits became far too long and overbearing, the costumes got ridiculous, the acting was and still is painful to watch, and worst of all his reviews became more and more disjointed over time. There’s a reason I unsubbed from his channel.

      I’ve actually worked with one of Joe’s former writers. Let’s just say there’s a good reason Joe’s show’s quality has tanked — the people helping him aren’t exactly the greatest crew on earth.

    3. His loud and obnoxiousness comes from some staunch refusal to own a studio mike or adr his recordings make it terrible.

      I actually find myself agreeing with his opinions though, beneath the yelling and angry ruse there are some serious thoughts in there.

      And he doesn’t have a powerhouse of a major games publication behind him. He has admitted that he prefers reviewing PC games because it is easier for him, and I’m sure he means easier as in he can just run fraps to record his game play. Reviewing handheld titles means filming those handheld consoles while he’s playing, which is never not awkward.

      He doesn’t review exclusive titles that much, I’ve been watching him for 2 years and he reviews quite a variety of games.

  2. I’ll put on the Devil’s Advocate vest here for a sec. First off, did the PS4 actually get doled out to a lucky winner in that raffle? That, more than anything, is the sticking point for me. If it did, then Joe may simply be guilty of running afoul of bureaucracy — which, bluntly put, isn’t a capital crime in my book.

    Speaking of bureaucracy, most laws these days have NOT kept up with the ever-shifting way that technology changes our lives. Yes, the FTC needs to take a hard look at clickbait, but I am deeply suspicious of ANY solution that involves government. There’s a good adage I heard recently: if you think something should be regulated, imagine how someone might use it against you.

    1. Love devil’s advocates. I try to play it myself when I can.

      Yes a winner did get a PS4. And all in all I don’t think he had the intention of breaking regulations on that one, just had no dang clue what the regulations are.

      He hasn’t had a raffle like that since, so I hope the lesson was learned after the fact. I honestly don’t think local authorities have a care about an over a year old unauthorized raffle, but would be more interested if he ended up running another one. Pattern of intent and all.

      When it comes to disclosure on promos, some people may have it more forward in their head than others. Working with radio industry folk, payola is a real and scary thing they don’t want to be under the gun for again. I feel we are on the verge of a Radio Payloa scandal in the Youtube and twitch sphere. Even if unintentional… got to at least be aware and follow the law.

      All said and done, I wasn’t aiming to nail him to the wall so much as provide a cautionary tale for budding content producers. Seems more than ever people are wanting to jump into their own ventures, and it never hurts to be aware of laws surrounding what you are getting into.

      Though I agree about the heavy handed nature of govt solutions, and would prefer to keep them out in most regrades… I just wish Congress/Senate and some of these regulatory depts had more tech savvy leadership. That could help A LOT.

  3. Well, considering people from Texas are the worst example of humans I’ve ever met, this doesn’t surprise.

    And no, I wouldn’t say that to a Texans face, they all have retard strength.

  4. For starters that whole “Field Command” for his army, which I am a member of, has NOTHING what so ever to do with the AngryJoeShow channel itself. We don’t help with editing, we don’t help with physical support, we run the Community that Joe is a sponsor for. But asking people like you to get their facts straight before posting sensationalist news stories as click bate is like asking the Onion to post real news and stop being funny.

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