Interviews & Editorials

Impact of Blockchain Technology on Betting and iGaming Industry

Hrvoje Jerkić, Product Manager at NSoft

26.07.2023.

The digital revolution has ushered in a number of new technologies that are fundamentally altering the face of several industries. One of these disruptive technologies is blockchain—a decentralized digital ledger that records transactions across many computers in such a way that the registered transactions can’t be changed retroactively. The impact of blockchain technology extends beyond the financial sector, where it first gained prominence as the underlying technology of Bitcoin. The betting and iGaming industries are among those that stand to benefit greatly from the incorporation of blockchain technology. Let's see how.

Understanding the Mechanics of Blockchain Technology #

Blockchain technology concept

In the context of betting and iGaming, blockchain technology works by recording each transaction—whether it's a bet, a game outcome, or a payout—as a block on the chain. These blocks are linked together to form an unbroken, transparent chain of transactions that can be verified by any network participant. This chain isn't governed by a single entity but is maintained by a network of nodes or computers, each holding a copy of the blockchain. This decentralization makes the technology resistant to fraud, ensuring that once a game's outcome is recorded, it can't be tampered with or deleted.

The unique security provided by blockchain comes from its use of cryptographic techniques. Each new block in the chain is identified by its own digital signature, or hash. If someone tries to alter the information in a block, it changes the hash, alerting the network to the discrepancy. This safeguard prevents tampering, maintaining the integrity of the blockchain. Understanding these mechanics is critical to understanding how blockchain, with its structure based on decentralization, transparency, and security, can solve many of the problems that traditional platforms face.

Bringing Fairness and Transparency to the iGaming Industry #

One of the most significant benefits of blockchain technology in the iGaming and betting industry is the increased level of fairness and transparency it provides. Traditional online gaming platforms require a certain degree of trust from players, who have to believe that the house is not manipulating the outcome of the games. This requirement can, unfortunately, lead to mistrust if the player experiences continued losses.

Blockchain technology addresses this issue by enabling a 'provably fair' system. This system employs cryptographic hash functions to ensure that neither player nor house can alter the outcome of a game once it starts. Each party can check and verify the fairness of the game. Through this technology, blockchain instills trust in players and assures them that they are not being cheated.

Enhancing Security and User Anonymity #

Blockchain technology security in betting industry

Security remains paramount within the betting and iGaming industry, given the substantial financial transactions involved. Traditional centralized databases can be susceptible to hacking attacks, which can result in data breaches and substantial financial losses.

By adopting a decentralized approach, blockchain enhances the security of transactions. The decentralization ensures that the data is not stored in a single location, making it nearly impossible for hackers to exploit the system. This immutability and security of blockchain technology make it an excellent tool for mitigating security risks in the iGaming industry.

Furthermore, this technology also offers enhanced user anonymity, a feature that is especially appealing to players in regions where online betting and gambling are heavily regulated or outright illegal. Traditional online platforms require players to share their personal and financial details, which can discourage potential players due to privacy concerns. With blockchain, the only detail that is needed to make a transaction is the address of the sender's and recipient's crypto wallet.

Revolutionizing Transactions with Smart Contracts #

The application of smart contracts can revolutionize the betting and iGaming industry by ensuring quicker and more efficient transactions. Smart contracts are automated contracts that self-execute when predetermined conditions are met. They can automate the payout process, eliminating the need for manual approval, which frequently causes delays.

Blockchain-based betting platforms can utilize smart contracts to facilitate instant payouts as soon as the outcome of a game is determined. This automatic payout feature eliminates the trust issues associated with platforms where players must rely on the platform to release their winnings.

Role of Cryptocurrencies #

Blockchain cryptocurrency

Beyond the role of smart contracts in transaction facilitation, the use of cryptocurrencies in blockchain-based iGaming platforms further revolutionizes the experience. Each cryptocurrency has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Bitcoin is widely recognized and accepted, but it may have slower transaction speeds than others, such as Ethereum, which offers improved functionality but may have less recognition.

Cryptocurrencies provide some anonymity, with transactions traceable on the blockchain but the parties involved remaining pseudonymous. This increases privacy while complicating compliance with regulations designed to prevent illegal activities such as money laundering.

Additionally, cryptocurrencies can facilitate micro-transactions, a significant advantage over traditional currencies. With fiat currencies, transaction fees or minimum limits can make small bets challenging. Cryptocurrencies circumvent this issue by allowing smaller transactions that wouldn't be possible with traditional currencies, making betting more accessible to a wider audience.

Facilitating Regulatory Compliance #

In the traditional iGaming environment, regulatory compliance can be a cumbersome process. Regulators must ensure that operators are adhering to rules and regulations to prevent illegal activities such as underage gambling and money laundering. However, tracking and verifying transactions manually is a complex and time-consuming task.

Blockchain technology, through its immutable and transparent nature, can simplify the process of ensuring regulatory compliance. By providing a complete and transparent record of all transactions, blockchain can help detect and deter illegal activities. For regulators and licensing bodies in the iGaming industry, it could be an invaluable tool.

Moreover, the adoption of blockchain could potentially lead to the development of a universal standard for the iGaming industry. This standard could harmonize the regulatory landscape, making it easier for operators to navigate the complex and often disparate regulations prevalent in different regions.

Challenges to Blockchain Adoption in the iGaming Industry #

Challenges to Blockchain Adoption

While the benefits of blockchain technology to the betting and iGaming industry are apparent, its implementation is not without challenges. The complexity of the technology, combined with regulatory uncertainty, scalability issues, and concerns about the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, represent significant hurdles that need to be overcome.

Complexity and Lack of Understanding #

Blockchain is a complex technology, and its understanding is not widespread. For many players and operators in the iGaming industry, the technology can seem daunting. This lack of understanding can act as a barrier to adoption. To overcome this, industry stakeholders need to invest in education and awareness initiatives to demystify the technology and its benefits.

Regulatory Uncertainty #

Blockchain technology is relatively new, and regulations governing its use are not uniform across different jurisdictions. Regulatory bodies worldwide are grappling with how best to regulate blockchain and the cryptocurrencies it supports. This regulatory uncertainty can make it challenging for iGaming operators to adopt blockchain technology.

Moreover, in regions where online gambling is restricted or outright illegal, the anonymous nature of blockchain can be a double-edged sword. While it allows players to bypass restrictions, it can also lead to regulatory backlash, potentially hindering the widespread adoption of blockchain in the iGaming industry.

Scalability Issues #

Although blockchain offers many benefits, the technology currently faces significant scalability issues. Bitcoin, the largest and most popular blockchain, can only process a limited number of transactions per second. This limitation is far less than what traditional payment networks can handle. As the iGaming industry continues to grow, this scalability issue could become a significant hindrance.

Volatility of Cryptocurrencies #

The use of cryptocurrencies for transactions is an integral part of blockchain technology. However, the extreme volatility of cryptocurrencies can be a deterrent for players. A player's winnings could decrease in value before they even have a chance to withdraw them, due to the fluctuating value of cryptocurrencies. This volatility can discourage players from adopting blockchain-based platforms.

The Impact on Traditional iGaming Operators #

The rise of blockchain-based platforms is altering the iGaming landscape and its business models. As the industry trend continues, traditional iGaming operators must make strategic decisions. Some businesses have chosen to integrate blockchain technology into their existing infrastructures, while others are assessing the impact of this change on their competitive position.

Operators that have integrated blockchain do so in order to capitalize on the potential benefits it provides, such as enhanced security, improved transparency, and potentially increased user trust. Their goal is to optimize their operations by utilizing this ground-breaking technology.

Operators who have yet to implement blockchain technology, on the other hand, are assessing their position in the face of the emergence of competitors who are entirely built on blockchain. These newcomers may be able to provide a more transparent and secure gaming environment. Traditional operators' strategies must be rethought in order to maintain their market position, either by considering blockchain adoption or exploring alternative methods to match the offerings of these innovative platforms.

Future Outlook and Conclusion #

While blockchain technology brings undeniably exciting possibilities to the betting and iGaming industries, it's important to consider the potential challenges and limitations this technology may face on its way to widespread adoption. Though the benefits of blockchain, such as increased transparency, fairness, security, and efficiency, appear promising, these advantages must be balanced against challenges such as regulatory uncertainty, technological complexity, and the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies.

Certainly, operators who successfully integrate blockchain into their platforms may find themselves well-positioned to capitalize on these advantages and potentially gain a competitive advantage. Blockchain-based platforms like Augur provide a glimpse of how a more secure, fair, and transparent gaming experience might look like.

Yet, the broader application of blockchain in the iGaming industry requires a collective effort from all stakeholders. Regulatory bodies need to confront the challenge of forming comprehensive and supportive regulations for blockchain's use. Platform providers and operators must be willing to venture into the complexities of this technology and invest significantly in user education, promoting a clear understanding of blockchain's workings and benefits. The willingness of players to embrace these new platforms will also play a significant role in the success of blockchain adoption.

In conclusion, the integration of blockchain technology represents a potential, but complex, avenue for transformation within the betting and iGaming industries. The blockchain's promise to address long standing industry issues—such as fairness, transparency, security, and efficiency—is compelling, but the road to adoption is not without challenges. These hurdles should not be overlooked as the industry approaches what could be a new era of blockchain-powered iGaming and a new chapter in betting history In this rapidly evolving landscape, careful, informed navigation is key.


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