Peerplays: The new Bookie on the block

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Bookie, the inevitable realisation of betting on the blockchain, promises to be up and running in only a matter of months. And with the launch of this decentralised, globally accessible, and yes, user-friendly application from Peerplays, comes a stark warning for the incumbents.

 

A Canadian non-profit organisation looks to unseat the status quo with a new peer-to-peer betting exchange, built entirely on a blockchain.

While there’s been plenty of hype about the potential for gaming on the blockchain, Peerplays’ new and aptly named application, Bookie, is perhaps the closest we’re coming to this deadly disruptive technology being fully realised in betting.

“Bookie will be one of the first applications that plugs directly into the Peerplays blockchain,” says Jonathan Baha’i, co-founder of Peerplays. “It’s a decentralized sports betting exchange, sitting on a blockchain.”

The PBSA – or Peerplays Blockchain Standards Association – is a non-profit organisation set up by two blockchain enthusiasts – Baha’i and co-founder Michael Maloney –  who began developing a blockchain platform that would deliver a fairer, more secure, transparent and globally accessible way to wager.

“This is a decentralized blockchain project,” Maloney reminds, “which means it’s not owned or controlled by PBSA. Our purpose is to develop and publish open-source software code for use by the Peerplays network node operators. We also publish and share educational material about the technology we are building.”

The open source structure is a USP in itself. Essentially, Peerplays’ “tokenized” platform enables certain processes to take place on the blockchain which create a decentralised and democratically managed betting exchange: one split between its users (who can place bets and collect winnings with digital currencies); and its stakeholders (the holders of PPY tokens, that manage the platform, and receive a portion of the tiny commissions – “rake fees” – added to each wager).

“It’s not officially a dividend, but it has enough similarities that people started calling it a dividend-paying cryptocurrency,” says Maloney. “We’re not aware of anyone else who has built a similar mechanism into their core token on the blockchain. It’s one of the things that makes PPY tokens unique.”

There are a couple of particular competitors, Baha’i explains. “But we’re not fully aware of their plans. There are usually a lot of trade secrets when teams look to build this type of technology.”

Augur was the original betting platform, built on the Ethereum blockchain. “It’s been around for a while, but we haven’t seen much functionality there yet.

“And then there’s Gnosis,” a brand new blockchain gaming project also built on Ethereum. Peerplays however, has been developed on the Graphene blockchain, a third generation blockchain technology that comes with significant operational advantages.

For starters, it has a much faster block-time (the time it takes for the ledger to update) of only three seconds. Rival blockchains such as Ethereum take 12 seconds; Bitcoin’s takes around ten minutes.

“If we had ten minute blocks, that would mean you’d have to wait ten minutes to see if your bet had been matched. It’s that simple,” says Maloney. “But instead Peerplays is updated every three seconds. We are taking advantage of this speed by writing smart contracts to support live betting markets.”

Another feature of Graphene is that it allows users to trade in whichever cryptocurrency they wish. This is not possible on other blockchains, like Ethereum, for example, on which only “ether” can be traded.

“This could bring a lot more choices to the user in an environment where many emerging digital currencies are yet to be discovered,” Maloney adds. “As no one knows which ones are going to be adopted and utilised by people.”

Yet aside from rival blockchain projects, the Bookie app has some bigger fish to fry. When compared to the titans of exchange betting, consumers would need good reasons to turn to the confusing world of blockchain technology.

“First and foremost, the Peerplays blockchain brings complete transparency to online betting,” Baha’i continues. “Every transaction on the blockchain is publicly available in real-time, and all blockchain software is open-sourced. So there is no company, organization, or person that has privileged access to the inner workings of the Peerplays blockchain. This is a huge improvement over the secretive workings of most other sportsbooks and exchanges.”

Peerplays will also be the “first truly global betting exchange”, they say. In opening betting markets to everyone, greater economies of scale means commission fees are necessarily pushed down for users. Notwithstanding the inherent advantage of being completely free to access the betting markets “regardless of where a user happens to be located.”

Users should not be deterred by the complexities however. The Bookie app promises to hide this obfuscating world of blockchain technologies behind a user-friendly interface. “User experience is obviously a key part of any successful product in this space,” says Maloney, who assures Peerplays users that once the app is launched, they can expect “familiar betting exchange functionality via a smooth and user-friendly interface.”

This decentralised revolution that Peerplays represents is bound to make troubling reading for the old guard. And while the disruption of the market’s front-end providers is palpable, it also begs the question as to what role the industry’s back-end suppliers can play in this reductive new world.

“Witness node operators and elected block-signers, will all have the simultaneous task of being oracles, and publishing data on the Peerplays blockchain, for both opening and settling sporting events and prediction markets,” Maloney explains. “They’ll likely be acquiring data from various paid data feed providers, so there is some opportunity there for overlap with current industry services.”

Small consolation perhaps. But if blockchain is here to stay, as indeed Maloney, and other enthusiasts firmly believe, failing to engage with its “disruptive capacity” could soon become the riskier approach.

“It’s a positive thing,” he assures. “This technology has many different ways to connect with and plug into, in many different industries.

“There are a lot of people within these industries who are discovering ways to continue to propagate their trade by becoming involved with blockchain projects, rather than trying to fight against them and continuing to the do their own thing.”

The Bookie app – the world’s first on-chain sports betting exchange – will be available to download from November.


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