Comparing cryptocurrency trading to gambling is like comparing crypto tribalism to religion: the analogy is correct, but it’s also tired. What bears emphasizing, then, isn’t that crypto trading and crypto gambling are often indistinguishable, but the extent to which the two disciplines permeate the cryptosphere. From the most popular dapps to the leading hacks, everything of interest within the space can be interpreted as a form of gambling. It’s the reason why crypto is so fascinating and so addictive.
The Whole World Is a Game
The gamification of everything is the endgame of life itself. Soon it will be impossible to go for a jog without receiving a high score or being showered in shitcoins for your efforts. Competition is what drives us as humans. The desire to be better than one’s fellow man or woman is the reason we’re here today on the internet, and not still living in mud huts. Combining money, mathematical puzzles, economics and copious amounts of game theory, crypto is a heady concoction of all the things that spur a man to get out of bed in the morning and conquer the world.
And the use of “man,” on this occasion is deliberate. There are many reasons why crypto has been historically male-dominated, some of which are too contentious or tangential to delve into here. This much, however, needs said: men are greater risk takers in life. It’s why their fortunes are more likely to fall in the extremes than in the mean: atop the mountain or in the gutter, but rarely in between. It’s also why crypto’s greatest success story so far has been letting men do what they were gonna do anyway: gamble, both literally and loosely, while striving to stack more sats than their peers.
Gambling on a Future for Dapps
What is altcoin trading if not a game to end up with more BTC than you started out with? Whether you get there through charting ichimoku clouds or rolling high-low in a crypto casino seems immaterial. To understand the extent to which gambling dominates the cryptosphere, there’s only one place to start – the dapp store. Hit up your favorite dapp tracker (Dappradar or State of the Dapps are probably best) and take a look at the most popular decentralized applications on each chain.
State of the Dapps notes six of the dapps in its top 10 as being gambling. Dappradar, which records more crypto networks, including Tron, also has six gambling applications in its top 10. Leading the pack is Wink, the betting platform that uses the same principles as Bitcoin.com’s Cashgames: instant wins, micropayments, and provably fair gambling. Wink can be accessed as a conventional casino or on a game by game (i.e dapp by dapp) basis. In most respects, Wink is indistinguishable from any other crypto casino, with the primary difference being the way in which it’s accessed.
Online casinos can be banned and geo-restricted, as often occurs at national level. Dapps, while not the censorship-resistant paradise their proponents would have them, are a lot harder to block. It’s no surprise that many of the most popular gambling dapps have struck gold in Asia, where download links are shared in Wechat groups and where wagering on life is a way of life for many.
Trading or Wagering?
Not all gambling dapps can be neatly filed into the gambling category. How to interpret Bulls vs Bears for example? Like many of the leading dapps on Tron and EOS, it’s dubbed as gaming, rather than gambling, and as a skill-based endeavor, that’s technically correct. Players don’t compete against the house, and since the game calls for predicting crypto market trends, there’s skill involved. With talk of a “dynamic wagering environment” and large jackpots, though, it’s clear who the dapp’s target demographic is. Like many new dapps trying to bootstrap, Bulls vs Bears relies on giveaways (in this case TRX tokens for signing up) as a means of getting bodies through the door, or rather users on the protocol.
In condensing the act of trading into basic binary options – high/low, bull/bear, the dapp bestows the same duality that bifurcates so many other domains in life, from U.S. politics to dead rappers. Are you a bull or bear? Republican or Democrat? Biggie or Tupac fan? Somewhere out there is a dapp for that, where you can wager on binary options for all the things you love and hate.
Further blurring the lines between what constitutes gambling and what’s trading is Guesser. Built on Augur, it’s technically a prediction market that uses crowdsourced wisdom to determine probable outcomes. In reality though, it’s a betting dapp, and a very neat one at that. Guesser appears to have given up all pretences of operating a prediction market, inviting users to “Bet up to” a certain amount on each market.
There’s More Than One Way to Beat a Dapp
While crypto users have been filling Telegram and Wechat groups with gambling dapp strategies, a handful of more enterprising individuals have been working on their own means of beating the system. In crypto, as in everything else, there’s always a way to fast track your way to riches, provided you don’t mind breaking a few rules along the way.
Eosplay is the sixth most popular gambling dapp on EOS. For a short while, over the weekend, it was also the most profitable for whoever rented a bunch of resources and used them to clean out 30,000 EOS from the contract. Call it genius, cheating or a bit of both, it was an effective case study in unorthodox ways to beat the house.
Just to summarise, someone rented a load of resources from REX and is using it to exploit a gambling dapp called EOSPlay. They seem to have walked away with about 30k EOS so far. Don’t panic, just wait and resource usage should go back to normal.
— rektkid (@rektkid_) September 13, 2019
People can moan about the rough edges around defi protocols, the unreadability of bitcoin addresses, and the complexity of wallet recovery, but not everything in crypto is quite so wonky. Gambling has been a mainstay since the beginning of Bitcoin, and developers have gotten extremely efficient at it. If crypto builders can approach other ecosystem verticals with the same gusto with which players and devs have approached gambling dapps, mainstream adoption is just a UX breakthrough away. Where there’s a will to innovate, there’s a way, and when there’s money wagering on it, no problem is too big to solve.
From casinos to bitcoin, formerly fringe interests have now been normalized, thanks to those willing to put a punt on them when no one else would. Where gamblers lead, the mainstream tends to follow.
Do you think gambling is one of the best use cases for crypto to date? Let us know in the comments section below.
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