With the rise of a new currency comes the temptation to speculate with it, and Bitcoin is no differnet. The e-currency’s underworldly appeal, owing to its heavy encryption, has made it ideal for eschewing national gambling restrictions—but it also leaves Bitcoin gamblers with zero legal recourse if they fall prey to a scam. A new betting site hopes to change that.
It’s called Predictious , and it has made Bitcoin its currency standard in an attempt to recover some of the popularity of Chicago-based Intrade, another "predictions market" betting website which went under last December after a lawsuit from the Chicago Futures Trade Commission. Predictious allows gamblers to bet on real-life events: Everything from Chris Froome winning the 2013 Tour De France to Mila Kunis winning FHM’s Sexiest Woman of the Year in 2014. Bitcoin allows anyone in the world to trade, and as Predictious is based in Ireland—where such betting is legal—the burden of proof to link gamblers with Predictious’ bets lies in overcoming Bitcoin’s significant encryption.
Predictious may be the newest site to bet on real-world events, but it’s not the only horse in the race. As the Verge notes, sites like Bitbet host similar bets to Predictious, but they’re almost all related to Bitcoin’s value variation. The rest of the online Bitcoin gambling world is a Wild West of casino-style gambling sites with skeuomorphed green tables and Bicycle playing cards, many of which looking straight out of early-2000s Yahoo Games. There’s even a Massively Multiplayer Online Game in the works to merge Bitcoin-powered minigames of luck or skill with Second Life-style avatar interaction.
But as Forbes’ Jon Matonis notes, the biggest online gambling names haven’t jumped on the Bitcoin bandwagon for the traditional reasons monoliths don’t move quickly: They’re wary of increased scrutiny from gaming regulators and their users haven’t expressed enough interest. That leaves the field to the risk-takers—but while Bitcoin thrives under the lack of limitations that Matonis outlines (acceptance in countries that Visa/Paypal haven’t reached, no confiscation by third parties, elimination of chargebacks/fraudulent transfer charges due to Bitcoin’s finality, relative immediacy of payment settlement), that leaves little recourse for gamblers skiffed by fraudulent sites. The Bitcoin community has fought back with directories outlining the comparative risk of known gambling sites, such as Bet With Bitcoin and the BitCoinTalk forum.
Those lists include sites for poker, blackjack, slots, dice, roulette, and sports betting—casino standbys—but Predictious is catering to the popular crowd with predictions on events as simple as "What Will Be Q3 2013’s Top Grossing Film" (Pacific Rim? Monsters University? Smurfs 2?) and "Who Will Die At The End Of Breaking Bad" (Walt? Jesse? Neither?). Bitcoin’s days submerged only in the smoky digital halls of poker and sports bets are numbered.
[Image: Flickr user jDevaun]