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12 Markets Decentralization Can Actually Improve (And Why)

Kyle Samani is a Managing Partner at Multicoin Capital, a thesis-driven cryptofund that invests in tokens reshaping entire sectors of the global economy. The following is an exclusive contribution to CoinDesk’s 2018 Year in Review.  Over the last 20 years, a lot of companies have built large online marketplaces to connect buyers and sellers. Amazon, eBay, […]

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Law Commission of India Recognizes Cryptocurrency as Means of Electronic Payment

The Law Commission of India has recognized cryptocurrency as a means of electronic payment. The pronouncement came during the Commission’s recent feasibility study of the legality of online gambling in the country. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts in India will most likely welcome this news given the negative view held by many government officials towards virtual currencies.

Law Commission Groups Cryptocurrency with Electronic Payment Channels

According to a report issued by the Law Commission:

Gambling transactions should be made cashless, making use of electronic means of payment such as credit cards, debit cards, net-banking, virtual currencies (VC, or cryptocurrency), etc.

The idea of cryptocurrencies gaining any form of recognition is one that appeals to crypto enthusiasts in the country. Commenting on the ruling, Nischal Shetty, the CEO of WazirX, a local cryptocurrency exchange platform said:

It is the first time that a body appointed by the government has given recognition to virtual currencies that they have value and can be used for a transaction. Therefore, it is a very positive sign, especially considering the report has come out after a lot of deliberation.

Presently, virtual currency regulation is a significant topic in India. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country’s apex bank, has prohibited local banks from facilitating cryptocurrency transactions in the country. This situation has led to a public outcry with multiple suits filed to challenge the RBI ban.

The Supreme court after having heard preliminary arguments on the case recently fixed September 11, 2018, as the date for delivering its decision on the matter.

Regulation is Better than Prohibition

The ruling offered by the Law Commission of India throws into sharp relief an important debate of which is more desirable – regulation or prohibition. The Commission’s mandate was the examine the case for legalizing betting while treating match-fixing as a criminal offense.

The same principle could also be applied to the government’s stance on cryptocurrency and the RBI ban. Commenting on this analogy, Tuhina Joshi, an associate at TRA Law, a firm with many cryptocurrency exchange platform clients, said:

The law commission recommends that regulating gambling is preferable to an outright ban. This is the same argument we are making in [the] context of cryptocurrencies.

Do you think the ruling of the Indian law commission will lead to a reversal of the RBI ban? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Image courtesy of the Law Commission of India


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Police Seize $1.5 Million in Crypto During FIFA Gambling Crackdown

Local police officials in China seized more than $1.5 million worth of cryptocurrencies as part of a crackdown on gambling during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Chinese state-run media outlet Xinhua reported on July 11 that authorities first noticed the unnamed gambling platform in May following advertisements that claimed it would “accept international recognized cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, ether and litecoin” in order to draw in users. An investigation was launched soon after, according to the outlet.

The special investigation team discovered that the site, based overseas, utilized a traditional online gambling model coupled with cryptocurrency payments. Xinhua cited “regulatory loopholes” by which the site was able to secure profits by hiding proceeds using those currencies.

All told, over the course of eight months, some 333,000 users used the site, which reportedly saw an estimated transaction volume of at least $1.5 billion.

Now, authorities have arrested six organizers of the site and confiscated $1.5 million worth of cryptocurrencies as well as $750,000 in renminbi deposits from their bank accounts.

A spokesperson from the police department in Guangdong province said that the task force will continue working to”maintain a highly concentrated attention” on cracking down online soccer gambling and advised soccer fans to watch the games “rationally and consciously.”

World Cup Image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Scottish ‘Crypto Clinic’ Treats Bitcoin Trading Addicts

A Scottish hospital has created a course of residential treatment for those it deems to be ‘crypto addicts,’ in the UK’s first crypto rehabilitation program.

A Scottish hospital is treating people who are addicted to trading cryptocurrencies in the UK’s first ever ‘crypto clinic,’ the Evening Standard reported today, May 28.

Castle Craig Hospital in Peeblesshire, the Scottish Borders, has created a course of residential treatment for those it deems to be crypto addicts.

Experts told the Evening Standard that crypto trading can become a form of behavioural addiction, with traders obsessively glued to “minute-by-minute” market fluctuations. The devised treatment program is therefore closer to existing methods for treating gambling addictions, rather than to substance abuse programs.

Chris Burn, a gambling therapist at Castle Craig Hospital, was quoted by the Evening Standard as saying:

“The high risk, fluctuating cryptocurrency market appeals to the problem gambler. It provides excitement and an escape from reality. Bitcoin, for example, has been heavily traded and huge gains and losses were made. It’s a classic bubble situation.”

Tony Marini, a former gambling and cocaine addict, is leading some of the center’s new treatments. Marini told the Standard that “introducing life structure is key,” adding:

“I see cryptocurrency trading as a way for people to escape from themselves, into another world, because they don’t like the world they’re in. The first stage of treatment is to join other addicts in group therapy and share their life stories. This helps them identify with each other and realise that they’re not alone.”

Castle Craig said that there are currently no figures for the number of ‘crypto addicts,’ but “around 13 mln” people worldwide are trading in the system.

Last year, Cointelegraph reported on a Bitcoin investor who used his home as collateral for a $325,000 equity loan, in pursuit of making a mid-term profit on the cryptocurrency. Crypto community members, evidently viewing his investment mindset as equivalent to gambling, remarked that the move was “almost like a high school chemistry teacher deciding to begin making and selling crystal meth due to a change in life circumstances.”

From another perspective, there has been some discussion in the UK as to whether declaring your crypto trading to be gambling could help to avoid taxes with the British tax authority HMRC, which generally deems crypto profits as subject either to income or capital gains tax laws.

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eSports Platform To Launch Peer-To-Peer Betting As It Consults Malta’s Government

An eSports platform which allows users to challenge each other instead of betting against a bookmaker is preparing to integrate blockchain technology into its newly relaunched website. This comes as it consults with Maltese officials on how its gaming licence could be extended to incorporate cryptocurrency.

HERO is a Vienna-based company that has the goal of bringing back the social element to betting. It believes that the gaming industry lacks innovation and the nature of online betting needs to change, and gaming has become a system where middlemen take unfair fees and untrustworthy bookmakers rip people off. HERO enables users to challenge one another in a system without odds and unfair conditions.

Its decentralized technology is initially going to be integrated into, an existing platform specializing in eSports prediction and fantasy that has already amassed more than 200,000 registered users. Herosphere currently offers contests across four games: Dota 2, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch. Following the implementation, users will be able to place their bets using HEROcoin (PLAY) – a brand-new cryptocurrency. The bigger plan is to provide its blockchain technology to any other gaming provider over time.

Christina Roth, Head of Communications for HERO, told Cointelegraph: “Our goal is to reintroduce a social element to betting and make it fun and safe for everyone. We see the blockchain as a huge advantage for our industry, helping us to foster what has always been important to us personally: transparency, fairness, and consumer protection.”

“There is no need for bookmakers anymore”

The HERO Network’s launch comes at an exciting time for the eSports industry. Data from Newzoo suggests global revenues for this sector hit $655 mln in 2017, and this year, revenues of $905 mln are forecast – an increase of 38 percent. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is expecting that the market is going to grow by a compound rate of 22 percent in the three years to 2019 – transforming eSports into a “one billion dollar opportunity.”

Major players in the traditional sporting world have been watching the industry flourish with interest, and now, many want in on the action. The NBA recently announced plans to launch its own eSports league in 2018, and broadcasting behemoths such as ESPN have started to show eSports tournaments on their channels. According to research from The Next Level, 2017’s highest-rated show was Madden Challenge on CW, with 670,000 people tuning in. On Twitch, 40 mln hours were spent watching Dota 2 coverage – 21.3 mln of them eSports, according to Newzoo.

Although revenues per eSports fan are modest at the moment, they are growing. In 2016, it was estimated that every enthusiast was worth $3.50 a year – considerably lower than the average $15 that was spent by a basketball fan. However, HERO says expenditure and demand is increasing, with revenues of as much as $11 per fan, per year possible by 2019.

The HERO Network, a fully transparent system, allows the community to create games – with other users making peer-to-peer predictions on the outcome. Smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain are going to be used for automating the process of buy-ins and payouts, creating transparency and trust when transactions are being made.

Users who create a contest – for example, the opportunity for others to bet on the outcome of an eSports event – will be able to set their own reward, with a customized percentage of the total amount wagered being paid into their account. All contests will also come with something known as a General Reward, with at least 1 percent of the funds in pots across all platforms and providers going back to token holders.

Establishing new connections

HERO, which is based in Austria, has been pioneering legal changes in its home country when launching Austria’s first ICO last September.

“We are not focusing solely on our own product”, Paul Polterauer, CEO of HERO, told Cointelegraph, “but we are interested in enabling change for the industry as a whole.”

Currently, HERO is advising Malta on how cryptocurrencies could be used in the gaming sector and has just finished their feedback on the second draft of the license. The country has a gaming license which is applicable for businesses across the European Union, and is planning to have it ready for application within the next months. “It’s an exciting time for us, but also for the industry”, says Polterauer.

Roth added: “When Malta was looking for stakeholders, they wanted experts who were experienced in dealing with complex regulations and reached out to us.”

The company is on track for its official release of the first use, where will integrate the HEROcoin within the next weeks and prove an example for other providers.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Platform Creates Blockchain System That Offers ‘Valid Randomness’ in iGaming

A start-up company claims it can reduce public distrust in iGaming services through a blockchain system that generates “valid randomness” in games and makes them “provably fair.”

Luckchemy, which is registered in Gibraltar, says its initial product is a daily lottery which uses a delegated Ethereum blockhash and a server seed to ensure the final result cannot be altered. Players can select five numbers from 1 to 47 and one number from 1 to 24, with a variety of prizes available depending on how many numbers are matched. Prize funds offered through Luckchemy and ticket purchases will be in Ethereum and a newly created cryptocurrency called LUK.

According to the company’s white paper, the unique selling point of its lottery game is how 99 percent of the revenue generated through tickets is paid out again in prize money. The remaining 1 percent is split in half. While 0.5 percent is set aside for marketing and operations, the remaining 0.5 percent would be used for a monthly token holders’ draw. Here, users would automatically be given a free entry for every LUK token they have in their account – meaning the greater their balance, the higher their chances of winning are.

At the end of April, Luckchemy launched a second game with scratch cards. The new game gives players the chance to get real tokens. For each winning virtual token in scratchers, users get a LUK-token after the ICO ends. Then they can either use it to play on the platform or to exchange for ETH.

“Stable, entertaining and engaging products”

According to Luckchemy, distrust in the algorithms used by iGaming software – along with the legal and technical difficulties that come when claiming winnings – deter consumers. Research suggests that lotteries account for 31 percent of activity in the offline world, but online, this figure tumbles down to 13 percent.

Adam Krejcik, an adviser to Luckchemy, told Cointelegraph: “Operators need to quickly establish trust with online consumers while offering a stable, entertaining and engaging product, and customers need fast, secure payment solutions that never place them at risk of losing their money.

“The solution to this is transparency from the operators and modern flexible technology platforms that give customers more control of their funds and confidence in their gambling.”

As part of Luckchemy’s business model, indie developers would be given an opportunity to place their games on its platform. Through a “White Label” scheme, the company says famous brands would also have the chance to use Luckchemy games under their brands – helping the start-up develop a “strong and wide network” worldwide.

In April, a three-day audit of Luckchemy’s smart contracts was carried out by New Alchemy, which was focused on identifying security flaws and discovering any problems that could affect their trustworthiness. The review did not uncover any issues of critical severity, but “various changes” were made to smart contracts based on New Alchemy’s findings.

Plans for expansion

Luckchemy aims to launch one to two games every quarter. In time, it hopes to incorporate online poker, slots, bingo, and other games into its offering.

The company acknowledges that it will face challenges because of the “fragmented regulatory landscape that exists in the Western world.” In the six to 12 months after launch, it will mainly focus on growing its platform in Europe, southeast Asia, Latin America, Japan, Australia, and Turkey.

In addition to the monthly token holders draw, Luckchemy says that users with LUK in their account will be granted special kinds of voting rights in “feedback polls” – enabling them to express a preference for which games should be added moving forward.

A mobile free-to-play app is due to be released in the first quarter of 2019.

The company’s pre-sale is taking place from April 30 until May 21. Luckchemy offers a 40 percent token discount for this stage. According to the company, at the beginning of the next stage, the discount will be reduced by half and the number of promotional tokens will be limited. A full crowdsale is going to begin the following day and will run until July 20.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Startup to Create a Gambling Ecosystem to Make the Industry More Transparent and Efficient

JoyToken, a Blockchain-based platform and protocol located in London, is aiming to create a new gambling ecosystem which is designed to be more clever and trustworthy. The company says they have already secured deals with major networks operating more than 200 casinos.  

Changing gambling by empowering developers

JoyToken is being developed by former PokerStars and Bet365 executives. It aims to change the $20 bln gaming industry by making it less confusing, more transparent and efficient. The company has developed a solution to connect small developers, software houses, large digital casinos, and players. A new gaming ecosystem created by JoyToken could also empower players and help casinos reduce risk.

The startup founders believe they will achieve their goal by creating entrepreneurial opportunities for small game developers. The main challenge is providing an access to a large audience – currently, large game developers completely dominate the industry.

For smaller studios, promoting their games and gaining users is almost impossible. JoyToken is planning to use smart contracts to reward developers for creating new games and to safely guarantee, record, and audit each transaction.

Trust is the most valuable asset

Regulatory requirements and the lack of trust from players are the biggest challengers for the gambling industry. Players tend to use reputable, larger casinos instead of smaller sites – even those offering more “interesting games” – because players naturally gravitate to large casino companies that invest a lot into brand awareness and advertising.

Figures on overall advertising spend are not available but according to data from several online gambling operators, their annual budgets are in the tens of millions of dollars. For example, GVC Holdings, a network of gambling sites, reported expenditure of almost $50 mln per year on customer acquisition and retention.

Players, especially younger ones, want more from their gaming experience, including financial anonymity, trust and transparency. JoyToken aims to solve many of these issues.

Fixing bad reputation

For developers, the platform is providing a pathway to accessible game integration. It also eliminates middlemen: payments are going directly to developers’ bank accounts in the form of JoyTokens. Additionally, the startup takes care of all regulatory and compliance requirements. JoyToken also gives developers access to their own online casino website – the PlayCosmo Casino licensed in the UK, Malta and Curaçao – to test their games before general release.

Smart contracts allows the platform to automatically validate and log game results directly onto the accessible Blockchain ledger. This means that authorized players and game developers will be able to verify results, as well as cross-check game reputation.

The platform is being supported by gaming professionals, such as Keld Knudsen who has more than 30 years of experience with multinational organizations including American Express and Fujitsu Siemens Computers. He joined Mr. Green, an established online gaming company that offers online casinos and sports books during its early startup stages.

JoyToken’s founders have already signed deals with some major gaming distribution companies operating over 200 casinos around the globe which are planning to use JoyTokens. “JoyTokens will enable developers to pay and be paid for their games, while enabling players to enjoy games on PlayCosmo and many other sites,” the company founders said in a statement.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Is Blockchain-Based Lottery to Intervene the Online Gambling Market?

The Fire Lotto project, founded by Russian entrepreneurs in Cyprus, has launched an online lottery platform that is built on Ethereum smart contracts. Despite its relatively recent emersion on the online gambling market, Firelotto has already started four lottery games on its website and reported to Cointelegraph that initial guaranteed prize pool exceeds $1 mln.

Decentralizing the chances

Selling lottery tickets for no more than $2, the Fire Lotto platform is going to solve the transparency issue on the entire online lottery market. “Fire Lotto can operate as a global Blockchain protocol, but can also be offered to governments of specific countries as a solution to challenges to ensuring a fair lottery,” states the project’s white paper.

According to the Amiko research company’s recent marketing report, by 2018, the market size of gambling and lottery online games will grow to €52.98 bln (about $65 bln), as people continue to adapt to technology and online entertainment activities. And of course, the main driver of the industry is a rapidly growing mobile segment.

In total, the lottery industry holds a 29 percent share of the global gambling revenue and is facing challenges due to the growth of the digital economy.

Although the fairness of the game still remains questionable. Is the jackpot winner real? Is lottery truly random? Is the money really accumulated in one pool? The Firelotto team believes that the Blockchain decentralized protocol can offer answers to all these questions.

Fair enough!

According to the startup’s statement, winning numbers are chosen by RNG (random number generator) based on Blockchain technology of Bitcoin, so they are impossible to fake. “The global lottery industry is moving closer to cross-border, high-technology lotteries, and Blockchain technology can be the stepping stone needed for this innovation,” says the project’s team in the paper.

As all lottery parameters are released in open source (GitHub open code), they are accessible and fully transparent 24/7, the company states. And, finally, the decentralized platform provides full autonomy for winners and independence.

The Fire Lotto platform runs on both mobile and PC versions. As for now, four popular lottery games are available for users. Instant lottery Roger’s wheel has a fortune wheel with 21 numbers. It offers bets from 0,007 ETH with coefficient from two to 20. If a user guesses the right number, then he receives his bet multiplied by a chosen coefficient.

There are also three types of draw lottery: 4 of 20, 5 of 36, 6 of 45. “You pick one, buy a ticket and mark numbers. Lotteries are held every six hours. Your winnings are based on the amount of numbers that you’ve guessed,” states the project’s website. According to the company, the minimum guaranteed Prize fund of draw lotteries is over 450 ETH at the moment and it keeps enlarging till it reaches 1,100 ETH.

In March 2018 the Fire Lotto team runs its ICO campaign. The project lures its investors with transparent referral program and 15 percent cashback for each ticket sold. According to the project’s paper, 10 percent commission payments to FLOT token holders provide an endless source of crypto income. The team plans to use the White Label affiliate program bringing up to 50 percent share from the tickets sales revenue to affiliate partners.

Soft cap is $2,000,000 (7,000,000 FLOT tokens) and hard cap is $15,000,000. “In case the soft cap will not be reached all investment payments will be returned to investors wallets,” states the white paper. According to Fire Lotto, the soft cap has been reached within the first week of pre-sale in January 2018.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Blockchain Startup to Bring a Casino Platform You Don’t Need to Trust

Gambling has been part of human history since the very beginning and its reputation never really has improved over time. The arrival of Blockchain technology might truly make a difference. SP8DE, a new Blockchain-based gaming project, aims to bring a platform capable of supplying unbiased public randomness for developing and running casino apps.

No more trust issues

SP8DE is built on Ouroboros, the POS protocol underlying Cardano Blockchain. The company intends to overcome the obstacles plaguing the gambling industry, even in the decentralized world.

First, each block has to be mined which can cause delays in the settlement of values, something no casino can afford if they want to keep their gamblers happy in the highly competitive industry. Blockchain settlement fees can also climb up pretty high scaring away newbie players taking the chance with low amounts.

When it comes to big money, you should trust no one and this is exactly the bizarre ethos of SP8DE- don’t trust us, but trust the code as they emphasize through their white paper.

For anyone with a great idea, the company wants to provide a platform where they can develop a compelling gambling application with no house edge, next to nothing for transaction fees, and generating provably fair random numbers.

Las Vegas 3.0

According to the company’s white paper, SP8DE’s protocol is transparent, autonomous and easy to understand. Their scripting language is the heart of the platform emphasizing the importance of simplicity and flexibility. All apps the developers will bring to life on SP8DE will be based on smart contracts using SPX, the platform’s native cryptocurrency. Each outcome from each game on the Blockchain will be conditioned upon the realizations of the coin tossing mechanism that fuels the Ouroboros protocol.

Thrilling as gambling in itself, SP8DE decided to bring the fun even to its token sale. Everyone who decides to gamble on SP8DE and purchase SPX coins during their Sale stages will be part of their Jackpot game where additional tokens will be distributed randomly among contributors. Just like in a casino, but here everyone wins. Though, those who join the sale earlier and buy more coins will have more chance to take on the house and win a larger share.

A fair game for everyone

The online gambling industry has really taken off since the dawn of the Internet, the early 1990s. It’s already an industry worth billions of dollars, but it projected growth can even reach one tln dollars by 2021.

No surprise, the crypto-economy has quickly sucked in the gambling industry, though it still mostly exists as a trendy option rather than the only. Without a doubt, providing anonymity for its users- ‘no need for documentation or even an account’- is one of its most appealing features for gamblers. Transparency is also an important aspect, but what makes the actual difference is it really opened up the door to people to make use of the cryptocurrency loophole in places where gambling regulations only apply to fiat money.

Casinos might never have a good reputation, they could be in Las Vegas or the digital world, but SP8DE might make the game a bit fairer using the Blockchain technology to its full potential.

SP8DE’s ICO has started on Jan. 8 and runs until March 8.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Token Gesture: Arsenal Football Club To Promote Mobile Gambling ICO

UK premier league football club Arsenal has made the unlikely step of partnering with an ICO for official sponsorship.

As various media outlets report Thursday, the London-based club will now feature promotion of the forthcoming ICO from US mobile gambling app CashBet.

The little-known operator plans to raise up to $70 mln through distribution of its CashBet Coin token, with its ongoing pre-ICO phase set to end Feb. 20.

In an accompanying press release, CashBet describes itself as Arsenal’s “exclusive and official Blockchain Partner.”

While some reports suggest the deal is the first of its kind in the sporting world, Dec. 2017 actually saw Bitcoin Suisse begin a three-year sponsorship of Danish hockey team Rungsted Seier Capital.

The full-on Bitcoin injection saw Bitcoin Suisse rename the team’s home stadium to Bitcoin Arena and promise to pay its top player solely in Bitcoin – another world first in sport.

Despite the mixed reputation of ICOs which continues, Arsenal’s chief commercial officer appeared unfazed.

We are pleased to welcome CashBet Coin as our partner. We are looking forward to working with CashBet Coin as they launch their new cryptocurrency,” Vinai Venkatesham said in a further release.