This article originally appeared on Asia Gaming Brief.
The blockchain-based gambling projects which successfully fundraised tens of millions of dollars via initial coin offerings (ICOs) last year are nearing launch, and for many, Asia holds the key to long-term success.
A spate of successful ICOs saw a diverse range of gambling-related operations funded in 2017, including B2B provider FunFair, which raised $26 million in four hours in July.
Several months on, many of these projects are nearing launch, with some already live.
Wild Crypto is one of the first to launch, going live in February just four months after successfully raising 10,592 in the cryptocurrency Ether in September of last year, around $6.5 million at today’s prices.
An online casino offering a range of slots, lotto and instant win games, Wild Crypto accepts bets placed only it is bespoke WILD token cryptocurrency. Those who invested in the ICO received the tokens at a rate of 2000 to each Ether, and the tokens can also be bought via the site and through exchanges.
“We launched at the start of February and the feedback has been incredible. We received more than 2,000 new players in the first few days after going live, and those numbers have been growing well ever since,” William Trentini, CEO of Wild Crypto, told AGB.
“The focus now is to improve the product and reach a larger audience via marketing. We will be considerably expanding our content offering with new games, including some innovative new skill-based titles from developer Chopsticks in the Apps. We believe these titles will hold appeal to our players, who tend to be younger than a typical online casino user.
“We are also undertaking a major marketing push, launching our affiliate programme and adding even more content. Asia is an important market for us. Later this year we will be unveiling Chinese, Korean and Russian-language versions of the website to better serve players across the region.”
Another soon-to-launch blockchain gambling product is the decentralized sports betting exchange Bookie, which sits atop the Peerplays blockchain.
Toby Lynas is head of operations at the Peerplays Blockchain Standards Association (PBSA), a non-profit organization established to promote the Peerplays technology and provably-fair gaming standards for the Peerplays Blockchain globally.
He said that blockchain-based gaming products are well positioned to capitalise on the lack of trust in the Asian online sector.
“The lack of sensible regulation for online gambling across most Asian jurisdictions has created several issues. Players cannot always trust the veracity of the games they play, nor guarantee winnings will be paid out,” Lynas told AGB.
“What the blockchain offers is the opportunity for a new generation of products that are decentralized and provably fair. In countries where it is hard to make deposits and withdrawals to online gaming sites, the blockchain and cryptocurrencies can offer a far more seamless experience.”
As those projects that fundraised last year either go live or prepare for launch, others continue to turn to ICOs as a fundraising method.
The second wave of crypto gambling projects have tended to become more ambitious in their scope and scale in recent months.
CashBet Coin, for instance, launched its token sale with the announcement that it had struck a world’s first partnership with Arsenal football club to become the Premier League team’s exclusive and official Blockchain Partner.
“[The deal was] a way of engaging a global audience ahead of the CashBet Coin token sale. Obviously, a Premier League football club with such a large, international following as Arsenal is an ideal way to reach potential customers,” Mike Reaves, CEO of CashBet, told AGB.
“We have seen fiat casino and sportsbook operators do the same for years, so it made sense to employ a similar approach for CashBet Coin. The response has been fantastic. Audiences around the world now see the CashBet Coin logo pitch side at Arsenal’s home games and this has significantly built the strength of our brand.”
Speed, security, transparency
According to data from Twitter user @cryptogamblingx, who tracks the market capitalization of the ten most valuable gambling-related cryptocurrencies, the sector is currently worth in excess of $430 million.
This figure had topped $1.2 billion as recently as January, before a market-wide crash which also saw bitcoin’s value plummet from $20,000 to $6,000. At time of writing bitcoin is valued at around $7,350.
The challenge for many of these projects is not simply delivering a strong product; it also involves keeping those who have invested in their currency happy.
“It is important to remember that running our crypto casino is only part of the story. Wild Crypto only accepts bets made in our bespoke cryptocurrency, WILD tokens,” Trentini said.
“We issued these tokens last year as part of our initial coin offering, and we continue to focus on supporting those who purchased the tokens as an investment. This means ensuring the community is kept up to date on the latest news, as well as getting WILD token listed on exchanges, so people can buy and sell it.”
But ultimately it will be the strength of products that determines whether the sector prospers.
“Delivering a product and user experience that can compete with traditional online operators has been the biggest challenge so far, but that is changing,” said Lynas at the PBSA. “The crypto gambling products that succeed will have to offer a truly world-class experience as well as all the benefits of the blockchain – fast transactions, security, and transparency.”
Reaves at CashBet Coin said that while it is still early days, the opportunity is nothing short of revolutionary.
“As with many new technologies – just look at the early days of the internet – the so-called sin industries are leading the way in terms of providing a real-world use case for cryptocurrencies.
“The gambling sector is perfectly suited to crypto and tokens such as CashBet Coin have the power to revolutionize it by bringing unprecedented levels of speed, security and transparency. I expect crypto gambling operations to drive much of our industry’s growth over the coming years.”