The world may still be waiting for the killer app that takes blockchain into the mainstream. However, it could be argued that crypto gambling sites are collectively already achieving that …
According to Bitcoin.com, around $4.5 billion USD of BTC was wagered with online crypto gambling sites between 2014 and 2017. Then, with the heady hysteria that saw the masses rush to crypto in late 2017, the market value of all cryptocurrency gambling activity, according to Statistica, subsequently climbed to in excess of $50 billion USD for 2018. That jump was all the more impressive, given the historic tumble in the price of Bitcoin and the general market deflation witnessed over the course of that same year.
Whilst it is generally difficult to collate reliable statistics for today’s engagement with crypto-based gambling platforms because of the inherent anonymity of blockchain technology, at least one site, Dapp Radar, claims to be tracking usage statistics for blockchain-based gambling apps. And the numbers are impressive – the top ten crypto gambling platforms are collectively registering in excess of 400,000 transactions on any given day. TRON and EOS-based blockchain gambling apps currently dominate the market.
In this article, we’ll outline some of the world’s leading and best crypto gambling sites and apps. Before doing so, it is worth bearing in mind that these fall into three broad categories: centralised, de-centralised and hybrid platforms. We’ll outline their relative advantages and disadvantages below. In the meantime, you will simply need to note that the fundamental distinction between them is defined by who holds ownership of your assets as you participate in the crypto gambling markets that they offer.
The defining feature of a centralised crypto gambling site is that, like any traditional online betting platform, it will hold custody over your assets for the entire duration of your participation in its markets. So if you plan to bet with Bitcoin on such a site, for example, you will first need to transfer Bitcoin from your own wallet to one that is held and managed by the platform itself before you can participate in its markets.
The disadvantage of this traditional approach is that the site in question now holds custody of your BTC and other crypto assets until such time that you request to withdraw it – something that runs contrary to the general philosophy within crypto circles. The advantage, on the other hand, is that the site in question is generally happy to forfeit transaction confirmation times for your bet when you participate in a given market. In other words, submitting and withdrawing your crypto assets for a given bet is generally a little bit faster than decentralised alternatives (more on this below).
Fortune Jack ranks among the world’s most popular and most reliable leading crypto gambling sites. The platform offers a variety of games – principally Sports, Dice and Casino. Stake.com is a similar service to Fortune Jack. However, where Fortune Jack offers variety in the games it platforms, Stake.com offers more variety in terms of the cryptos that can be used to participate in its markets including Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Doge, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ripple (XRP) and Tron (TRX).
Arguably the world’s first and still most impressive example of a decentralised gambling platform is Augur. The first release of Augur was designed to be entirely decentralised in every respect. Both markets and assets were managed between its users and its smart contracts. In other words, no-one was in charge. However, entry into the Augur eco-system represented a high bar – not least because this first version of Augur required a full download of the Ethereum blockchain which can take over a day. Users also required some serious investment in time to get to grips with using the Augur app which, unfortunately, was not particularly intuitive for most.
As a result, giving the relatively small uptake in use of the platform, the upcoming Version 2 of Augur promises to be much more user-friendly and intuitive, offering a smart-phone app that allows users to onboard much more easily. Version 2 will also offer the ability to bet with DAI – a stablecoin – as the volatility of cryptos (and thus their ability to wipe out gains) were roundly thought to be a discouragement for many.
As a decentralised technology, Augur is not a website but an app which collaborates directly with the Ethereum blockchain. And it is the Augur community’s participants who decide on the outcome of a market. Market resolution works from the principle that the majority of good faith participants will always outgun trolls and other bad faith actors who try to cheat the platform. Of the 2000+ markets that have so far been created on Augur, every market has so far resolved correctly.
Arguably Augur’s biggest attraction for whale-type bettors is its lack of limits. So if you feel like putting down $1 million on the next US presidential elections, there’s nothing stopping you if you have $1 million USD equivalent of ETH to spare. Although you may want to leave aside some time for a possible call from your local gambling industry watchdog if you do so.
We mentioned at the beginning of this article that there are also hybdrid crypto gambling platforms. A good example of this is guesser.com (a website, naturally, and therefore a centralised technology) which, as it happens, interfaces with Augur (a decentralised technology). The advantage to users is that Guesser will remove much of the complexity of using Augur whilst preserving much of the inherent transparency offered by Augur itself.
The disadvantage is that users have to rely on and trust their assets to a third-party which, some argue, defeats the purpose of blockchain technology itself. Bitcoin was, after all, designed as a currency to combat the arbitrary behaviour of centralised power by offering up a secure, predictable and transparent protocol as an alternative to traditional money.
Either way, crypto gambling sites and the rising phenomenon of blockchain gambling platforms that offer blockchain alternatives to traditional gambling activities (Bitcoin casino and Bitcoin poker sites are a case in point) are a new phenomenon that are set to re-define the industry.