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Unlocking the power of cryptocurrencies to step inside the decentralised casino

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Unlocking the power of cryptocurrencies to step inside the decentralised casino
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Researchers from the Department of Computer Science at the University of York have presented the first ever analysis of gambling transactions taking place in cryptocurrency casinos on the Ethereum blockchain.

In uncovering extreme behaviours, the study could assist in identifying the potential for financial harm via unsustainable spending among players, ultimately leading to better consumer protection tools.

The study unlocks blockchain transaction data to provide a detailed summary of spending behaviours, revealing how people are affected by this new form of online gambling.

Decentralised gambling applications differ from traditional online casinos in that players use cryptocurrency as a stake. The codes running the casino games are also stored on public ledgers, known as blockchains and cryptocurrency platforms such as Bitcoin and Ethereum use the technology to process payments and calculate game outcomes.

When players place wagers, their transactions are recorded on a blockchain in an anonymised form. Whilst this data has always been publically available, the technologically advanced nature of the applications has presented barriers to research and regulation.

As part of the study, researchers developed an algorithm to extract and decode transaction data from the Ethereum blockchain. The work examined more than 2.2m transactions from 24,000 unique addresses on three applications operating on the Ethereum cryptocurrency network (dice2.win, etheroll.com and fck.com).
Focussing on simple casino type games of chance, like dice rolls and coin flips, researchers found that the average decentralised gambling application player spends less than in other online casinos overall, but that the most heavily involved players spend substantially more.

As with regular online casino players, researchers found that those who generally place larger bets are more likely to wager larger total amounts over the duration of their betting careers, however this appears to be amplified in decentralised gambling application use.
The data revealed that the most heavily involved bettors wagered an average of 1,000 ETH (equivalent to approximately $100,000), which dwarfs the average 1.1 ETH (~$110 at time of study) presented by the majority of bettors.

In their assessments of typical ‘player’ behaviour, researchers were also able to identify the presence of non-human players, known as bots, in the data set. Bots may exist for a number of reasons, for example to artificially inflate the perceived popularity of the applications they are transacting with, or to attempt to win the jackpot from an application once it becomes statistically worthwhile to pursue.
The researchers cite that whilst they cannot infer the reason behind the bots’ existence, the identification technique they have developed presents an interesting area for future investigation.

Oliver J. Scholten, a PhD Researcher with the EPSRC Doctoral Centre for Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence, and member of the research team commented: “The study illustrates the power and scale of transaction data that decentralised gambling applications can provide to researchers”.
Scholten added: “These applications could really change the way people gamble online – we in the research community need to know how they operate, how to analyse them, and ultimately how to identify those in harm’s way.”

Dr James Walker from Digital Creativity Labs commented: “The work draws attention to cryptocurrency transactions as a tool for large scale in-vivo gambling research, and presents a robust foundation upon which multiple avenues of further analyses can be performed.”

The article is published by The Public Library of Science ONE at https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0240693

Blockchain

Blockchain betting market, Azuro, aims to tackle liquidity problems with the latest seed funding round

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The global betting and predictions market is expected to grow to over $92 billion by 2023 as new players, nations, and states embrace the industry. Huge economies such as the U.S. have long prohibited gambling but in 2018, some states legalized the practice, adding $1.5 billion to the global recorded figure of online betting revenue by the end of 2020.

Image source: Azuro

With many other states expected to follow the path, the gambling industry may surpass the predicted figure – $100 billion in annual revenue being the target by the end of 2023.

In light of the explosive rise in sports betting during the pandemic, many decentralized betting protocols have come up trying to sway users and players towards blockchain-based prediction markets. On Wednesday, Azuro, a decentralized DAO of betting and prediction markets, announced a successful $3.5 million seed funding round led by top VCs and angel investors ranging from DeFi, GameFi, traditional betting markets, and other blockchain-related areas.

The seed investment round was led by three companies namely Gnosis, Polymorphic Capital, and Flow Ventures. Other investors in the round included Ethereal Ventures, Arrington XRP Capital, AllianceDAO (a.k.a. DeFi Alliance), Delphi Digital, Meta Cartel Ventures, Merit Circle, and Clever Advertising.

Since the launch of decentralized prediction platforms in 2017, the space has rather stagnated despite the demand from players and the crypto ecosystem skyrocketing to a $3 trillion market capitalization. While many attempts have been made to make them work, most of these platforms have failed terribly in delivering on the fundamentals that Web2 betting companies capitalized on including an array of events, deep liquid markets, competitive odds, and multiple betting options. Additionally, current blockchain-based betting solutions suffer from single liquidity providers, product depth, and a bad UX for their players.

The latest capital injection into Azuro aims to solve these problems by launching a transparent, trustless, and decentralized platform. Currently, liquidity providers (LPs) on prediction markets have to start markets manually, set the odds and seed liquidity to each market they create. This means the LPs hold all the betting risks while having little incentive to do so. This has caused massive capital and liquidity exiting the decentralized prediction markets – as it happened with Gnosis, a partner of Azuro.

Furthermore, prediction markets are inefficient for bets with 3 or more outcomes. Most are bound to stick with YES/NO markets, which is dramatically insufficient especially for sports and related bets with more than two outcomes. Lastly, most of these platforms face regulatory pressure and geographical constraints, which could impact the growth of betting markets or even see them shut down.

Unlike its competition, Azuro is building a new protocol to enhance liquidity provision and minimize the betting risks for LPs on the platform. The platform employs a “pooled liquidity structure”, similar to DeFi protocols, which means LPs will not have to manually create markets and are not exposed to the betting market’s systematic risks. Instead, the risk is spread across all betting markets on the protocol, and therefore dramatically reduced for the LPs.

Additionally, the funds will be used to build a friendly UX architecture that allows for the full depth of the betting product available at centralized sportsbooks and a classic frontend, similar to traditional betting markets. Unlike most of the decentralized prediction markets today, Azuro will also allow users to easily set up multiple betting options, moving from the binary “Yes/No”, currently widely spread across decentralized prediction markets.

The decentralized betting governance protocol

Over the past year, DAOs have become the norm in the crypto industry, allowing participants on the platform to vote on proposals made to improve or upgrade the protocol. Similarly, Azuro plans to launch its DAO to reduce the external influence from regulators and authorities.

According to a statement, the platform holds liquidity as the base infrastructure layer with players and customer interactions built on top of it. This approach “outsources much of the direct-to-consumer efforts and relieves Azuro from most of the regulatory, KYC, legal and operational lift”, the statement further reads. Azuro breaks the role of traditional bookmakers into smaller roles, much more attainable for smaller participants. Azuro connects these participants in an elaborate dance thus providing players with a better experience in a decentralized way.

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Blockchain

EVOS Esports Partners with Metaverse Game Avarik Saga

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Southeast Asian esports organisation EVOS Esports has partnered with Avarik Saga, a Japanese RPG NFT P2E metaverse game, to expand the former’s collection of games, including the adoption of blockchain-based games.

Set to launch in the third quarter of this year, Avarik Saga is a strategic team-building game under the Japanese RPG genre that aims to bring the modern game experience into the NFT metaverse space. Under the partnership, EVOS Esports will introduce blockchain technology to potentially untapped audiences in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries. This includes people who have not previously engaged with NFTs or games in general.

According to EVOS, it believes NFT play-to-earn (P2E) metaverse games such as Avarik Saga can empower fans and communities, and this partnership will propel the company towards its ambition of becoming the first blockchain game company in Indonesia.

EVOS CMO Michael Wijaya said that he is very excited that EVOS can help Avarik Saga tap into existing local gaming communities and introduce the first Indonesian NFT P2E Metaverse RPG game, as well as foster a solid relationship to spearhead the blockchain game experience.

In September last year, Avarik Saga released its first playable NFT character collection of 8888 genesis NFTs, which sold out in less than an hour. The collection is currently available for trading in a secondary NFT marketplace, OpenSea.

While leveraging the enticement of RPG gameplays, Avarik Saga itself aims to use its P2E format, coupled with the enticement of RPG gameplays, to help accelerate the mass-market adoption of NFT gaming in Southeast Asian countries.

Avarik Saga CEO Kevin Cahya said that P2E is a mechanism that can only be a worthwhile venture if the game drives excitement and value to the community.

“In the end, the core of the game itself has to be enjoyable. A strong lore that entices the user to the Avarik Saga universe, a clear game mechanic that is engaging and content that makes the player want to come back is key. So, we want to develop an attractive game that appeals to the masses, even Gojek drivers and warung (small shop) owners, so they can earn real money while experiencing a digital world,” he added.

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Abstraction Enters Blockchain Game Development Space with Mythical Games Partnership

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Abstraction Enters Blockchain Game Development Space with Mythical Games Partnership
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Studio renowned for technical prowess and creativity chosen as part of initial group of developers to work with new crypto-powered games platform

Abstraction, a creative game development studio based in The Netherlands, is one of the first to partner up with Mythical Games. Recently valued at $1.2 billion, Mythical Games has selected to work with Abstraction on an action-strategy game based on the developer’s own proprietary technology, which will be integrated into Mythical’s new crypto platform.

“Mythical Games is at the forefront of scarcity-driven game design, and it’s exciting to be here at the beginning with them, exploring new ways to unlock the potential of crypto-powered games,” said Ralph Egas, CEO and Founder of Abstraction. “We share Mythical’s vision for player-owned economies and NFTs and are eager to apply our extensive AAA game development experience to the Mythical Platform, leveraging blockchain technologies to help set the industry standard for play-to-earn and digital ownership within video games.”

In line with the goals of the Mythical Platform, the unnamed action-strategy game will be play-to-earn, unlocking the player’s ability to reap rewards based on NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which use the transparency and security of the digital ledger of blockchain to authenticate rare items. Built on “a private EVM-compatible sidechain,” the Mythical Platform allows players to value and sell their own in-game items. It can integrate with existing games or be part of a new game, and includes tools for trades, payments, integration with in-game inventory, and fraud protection.

“We have been working with the team at Abstraction for over a year on a prototype using the incredible simulation tech they have built,” said John Linden, Co-founder and CEO of Mythical Games. “This is the type of innovation that can completely change a game experience for the better; we believe a combination of their technology and our economic platform has the potential to create a new and exciting game economy that players will enjoy for years to come. We are excited to work with Abstraction on bringing this evolution to life.”

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