Welcome, Superuser: Exploring the Gambling Use Case for Blockchain
Maria Mangion, Content and Community Manager for Good Game takes a look at the future of blockchain gambling
Nov 6, 2018
With the Malta Blockchain Summit and SiGMA respectively opening and closing a high-octane November in a legendary year for blockchain and gaming, the gap between the two industries is shrinking. But do people know how they’re converging and the exciting possibilities that lie on the horizon?
The biggest “block” to blockchain’s steady march towards widespread application and implementation is still uptake by the wider public. It’s crucial for the two industries to address the knowledge gap that separates the people behind the wheel from those in front of the screen. As we meet and mingle in these amazing hubs of ideas and networking, we need to focus on making the technology accessible to the people who our business depends on, plus the future generations who will have a crucial role in shaping and developing it.
Online casinos that use bitcoin as a payment method are easy to find nowadays. The crypto revolution has enabled these outlets to incorporate money transfers involving bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into their user interface. And that’s a definite tick in the box for crypto fans who are enjoying the benefits of banking with crypto coins. However, these bitcoin casinos are using blockchain only for money transfers.
Users might still be thinking that that’s all there is to gambling with cryptocurrency – the convenience of placing a punt with a crypto wallet. But a true “blockchain casino” should fulfil a much broader variety of functions than what we currently have with online casinos that accept cryptocurrencies.
Theoretically-backed, blockchain-proven safe gambling is one of them. In this scenario, players can verify that the outcome of any casino game is legit in lieu of having to trust the centralised casino to present fair results. Although the process is still slow and cumbersome due to the technology being in its infancy, the concept of “provably fair” gaming is quickly spreading.
Here’s a graphic explanation you can show to any gambler who isn’t yet aware of how blockchain casinos are the future.
A Short Comic Strip about “Provably Fair” Gaming
Imagine you’re in a casino gaming floor with a string of vending machines connected to each other and regular slot machines scattered around.
The vending machines are not controlled by the casino. They run independently of the establishment.
Before you start betting, you get a scratchcard from the casino reception desk.
This scratchcard has a secret number created by the casino behind its metallic strip.
You can’t see it yet, but it’s there. And nothing and no one can meddle with it now, because it’s in your hands. This is the casino’s signature, key, fingerprint… Call it whatever you like.
Then you go to any one of the vending machines, which gives you another scratchcard.
But this one’s a bit special. It’s a “build-your-own” scratchcard, since you’re the star of the show in this set-up.
It comes with a random number pencilled on it, but you can erase it and write another number if you want to be extra sure it’s a totally random number.
And if that’s still not enough, you can rub it off again and pencil in a harder number. Repeat for as many times as you like.
Once you’re happy with the randomness of it, the vending machine prints a metallic strip on top of your creation. That’s your scratchcard with your secret number for the bet.
Then you feed the casino’s scratchcard and your own to the same vending machine.
The machine reads what’s under the metallic strips and creates a new scratchcard combining both these values, plus an additional string of random numbers.
By the way, all this activity isn’t just recorded by the vending machine you’re dealing with.
It’s registered and stored by all the other vending machines connected to it, so anyone who’s using vending machine B can still see what vending machine A has been up to.
And because all of them are interconnected and there are others in other parts of the world which are also connected to this network, the system can never go down.
So you take the super scratchcard and proceed to a slot machine to make your bet. The slot machine is programmed to generate a number for each spin, like a bet ID. This is shown on the slot machine’s screen.
The slot machine pulls data from the casino reception desk about the secret number used for the scratchcard, which becomes part of the bet ID.
It also pulls data from the vending machine to include the number on the scratchcard you created, plus the random number added to these to form the super scratchcard number.
It’s finally time to scratch your supercard!
This is where the “provably fair” magic happens: the numbers on the super scratchcard and the bet ID on the slot machine screen have to match.
What’s crucial is that the bet takes place after the casino hands you the scratchcard with the secret number.
So if the casino decides to cheat and modify the number given to you on the scratchcard in the time it takes you to make a bet, it’ll change the bet ID shown on the slot machine.
And you’d only have to look at the super scratchcard in your hands to verify that the bet ID is false. This invalidates the bet.
Meanwhile, the vending machines have been monitoring all this stuff in the background.
With the power of all of them stacking the evidence in your favour (and the power being distributed amongst countless vending machines under no single ownership), you can get your invalid bet refunded from your vending machine straight away.
No need to walk up to the casino reception desk and demand a refund against their will.
And here’s the key to the analogy: the vending machines are the blockchain, the casino reception desk is the traditional, centralised form of the casino we’re all used to, and the slot machine is a prototype of provably fair games in their current state.
And you, sir or madam… are the iGaming superuser.
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