While cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin Cash (BCH) work towards improving the economic quality of life around the globe, there are still some interesting activities found across other blockchains. Gambling is always a popular activity and people will find virtually anything on which they can wager a few dollars (or, in the case of crypto, tokens). The latest gambling craze allows people to place bets on the possibility of well-known public figures being assassinated, and its catching on fast.
Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Donald Trump are just three of the targets in the betting activity. The bets are small and the payout odds are even smaller, but the ability to participate in the gambling ring is catching on, much to the dissatisfaction of regulators who are feeling impotent to controlling what it perceives as gambling activity.
This is just one example of how crypto is poised to grab a big part of the $500 billion global gambling market. As the market expands, so do the operations facilitating the activity. Privacy-centric Augur introduced its “prediction market protocol” last month that allows anyone to create a market on virtually almost anything—the death of presidents and leaders included.
In just the first month, 800 bets were made on the platform, with about $1.53 million being laid out. While the murder of public officials has made the list, it hasn’t been the top producer. The World Cup, along with wagers on future prices of different cryptocurrencies, have attracted the most action.
For those interested, markets for when Trump and Bezos might be assassinated have each attracted somewhere in the vicinity of $23,500 worth of action. Buffett, surprisingly enough, and actor Warren Beatty have virtually no action. The Trump action pales greatly in comparison to wagers on what the price of Ethereum will be at the end of this year, which have now reached over $684,000.
While it’s a form of gambling, CoinDesk Director of Research Nolan Bauerle feels that “prediction markets” are so much more. He said, “It is believed that the true potential of the wisdom of the crowd remains untapped and misunderstood. But if prediction markets grow to a global scale, the data points created from the wisdom of the crowd could have a dramatic effect in several industries, insurance principal among them.”
What makes Augur’s offering was that it’s decentralized. No one can control what is introduced as the subject of a wager, nor what bets are placed. According to Forecast Foundation cofounder Joey Krug, “Centralized prediction markets have many risks and limitations. They do not allow global participation, they limit what types of markets can be created or traded, and they require traders to trust the market operator to not steal funds and to resolve markets correctly.”
Augur is creating waves not just with crypto exchanges around the world, but also with regulators. For example, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has been open about cryptocurrencies and blockchains and has even approved the use of digital currency for its members to pay for their licenses. However, it believes, based on its own definition of gambling activity, that Augur’s platform would require it to be licensed.
The commission’s regulations state, “If the operator is not a party to the bet … but is providing a service to allow two other parties to make and accept a bet, then the operator is acting as a betting intermediary and the appropriate licence is a betting intermediary operating licence.”
In the U.S., the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has also taken notice of Augur and is said to be investigating whether or not its activities could come under the commission’s oversight.
More than likely, neither of the two regulatory bodies—the CFTC or the UKGC—are anxious to get involved and are more concerned with platforms and offerings that are having much deeper-reaching impacts. After all, out of all of the markets currently available on Augur, about half have not received any action.
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