Bitcoin is a digital currency that has skyrocketed in popularity and value since its inception in 2008 by developer Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin itself has been a hot topic online and through the media; the relatively anonymous manner which the digital currency can be traded has attracted everyone from the value-hunting investor to the common web criminal. SBR has established a bitcoin sportsbooks guide.
While much of the science behind mining and creating Bitcoin is more suited to technical users and outside the scope of this article, one group following Bitcoin news with keen interest are the US based online sports bettor and casino gambler community. In an age where making transactions with online betting organizations is difficult, costly, and a flat out pain in the backside, these bettors have been eager for a new funding method to come along to restore the glory of the pre-UIGEA eWallet days.
Gaming operators have with varying degrees of success plugged Bitcoin processing into their online sports and casino ventures. 99% of online sportsbooks do not offer Bitcoin. One such venture, BTC Sports Bet, has been online since January 2011 and prides itself as being the biggest and longest-standing Bitcoin sportsbook on the market.
BTCSportsBet.eu opened its doors 23 January 2011. The Bitcoin sportsbook is run by an anonymous individual who is known only by his online handle "Cusipzzz" (pronounced Q-sips, in case you're wondering). Cusipzzz' true identity is unknown, the level of anonymity similar to what previously surrounded "Dread Pirate Roberts", who was eventually unmasked when his Bitcoin reliant black market drug portal Silk Road was shutdown by the FBI. Cusipzzz will not reveal details as to his location, age, or even specifics as to his background in the gaming industry. He gave his first online interview with BitcoinBulletin.com three months after BTCSportsBet opening. Some excerpts below:
BitcoinBulletin.com: When you became involved with the Bitcoin currency, how long was it before you knew that you wanted to build a web service?
Cusipzzz: Right away! It just was the perfect combination for sportsbetting, and I knew from my other work it could be done quickly. A global, digital currency provides so many advantages – people from all over the world can sign up, fund an account, and place bets in minutes! Traditional sportsbooks usually only serve a local customer base, or are forced to carry many currency options and deal with conversion headaches.
BitcoinBulletin.com: What did you code the service in, and what are some of the tools you have found useful?
Cusipzzz: PHP is all the flexibility I needed. I reviewed some of the early PHP – JSON code and it seemed very straightforward. Thanks to everyone who did the early heavy lifting on those components. Also, blockexplorer.com is a great way to learn about Bitcoin – watching new blocks, tracking transactions, change, and addresses on there really puts the entire picture together.
BitcoinBulletin.com: How long did it take you and your (mystery) partner to finish the first version of the site? How long ago was that?
Cusipzzz: It took about a month. We moved some code from a similar site we had worked on before, and then basically bolted on the Bitcoin functionality. This was in late December 2010.
BitcoinBulletin.com : So how many people have signed up for your service thus far?
Cusipzzz: Over 100
Nearly three years after the interview, BTC Sports Bet remains online.
Enter the first major complaint against the bitcoin sportsbook: BTCSportsBet keeps $6,700 in winning wagers
A player contacted SBR claiming that 8 BTC ($6,700) in winning wagers went unpaid and his account closed. On December 1, BTC Sports Bet contacted the player indicating that he would be paid his balance minus the winnings from the wagers. The wagers in question are:
606 CS Bakersfield -4.5
614 San Fran -2.5
583 Pepperdine +7.5
602 SMU +6
His account was closed on December 1 for "irregular betting patterns":
BTC Sports Bet: "After review by a manager, your account is being closed due to irregular betting patterns, with the recent wagers cancelled."
BTC Sports Bet then paid 27.53 BTC ($23,000) to the player. BTC Sports Bet has refused to give their reasoning for not paying the four winning bets. SBR has confirmed that the bets were in-line with the market at the time of being placed and that the bets were not past-posted.
SBR has attempted numerous times to discuss the complaint either online or via telephone. BTC Sports Bet first stuck with a generic line of not discussing details with third parties. At this time, SBR instructed the player to again contact BTC Sports Bet and carbon copy the SBR resolution team on the email. BTC Sports Bet still refused to speak with the player. After repeated follow-ups from SBR, BTC Sports Bet replied with the following:
BTC Sports Bet: "We pay the largest wagers of any bitcoin sportsbook, literally thousands of BTC per month, and have since 2011. We will not discuss the matter with you as is stated policy, but your facts are not correct about the user and the wagers. We are confident that we have, and continue to earn the trust of our thousands of users, as noted by the numerous positive reviews, including well-known third parties such as the OSGA."
SBR followed up indicating BTC Sports Bet have also refused to explain to the player himself what specifically about his wagers violated their rules and could possibly be grounds for not being paid.
One of the oldest and most sacred rules sportsbooks must follow is "you book the bet, you pay the bet". The wagers in question were not erroneous lines nor past-posted. No evidence was offered to the player or SBR attempting to justify not paying the $6,700 in winnings.
SBR remains open to hearing BTC Sports Bet’s reasoning for the confiscation.
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