Blue Skies Ahead for the Blockchain-Based Betting Industry, Interview With Azuro’s Rossen Yordanov

New data shows a significant jump in the number of bettors moving to the blockchain over the last quarter.  The BGA report shows that in Q3 alone, the number of  Unique Active Wallets (UAW) connected to game dapps hit 754,000. This represents almost half of the overall gaming activity in the entire gaming sector.

This player explosion has partly been boosted by the Play to Earn model and NFT gaming, but on top of that betting on the blockchain puts bettors on a fairer and more equal playing field with the bookmakers.

Blockchain-based gaming brings timely payouts, fair bet settlements and keeps fixed-odds fair and transparent. It also means that players that are winning a lot will not have their accounts limited, as has so often been the case with conventional betting. Betting in this way also gives users anonymity and data protection and means that casinos don’t need to deal with cumbersome KYC processes, which often lower their conversion rates. For bookmakers, this also means that they are active in much larger pools, bringing liquidity to their events and games and fairer fixed odds to their punters.

Azuro is a leading brand in the blockchain betting space. They run a protocol allowing bookmakers to integrate with their front end and take advantage of all the benefits of the blockchain, plus DAO automation and oracle imported fixed odds. We spoke to their CMO Rossen Yordanov to understand how blockchain betting differs from conventional betting.

Q: For the uninitiated user, what experience does Azuro offer from conventional betting sites?

A: First let me clarify that Azuro is not a platform but a decentralized betting protocol. Betting itself will happen on front-ends which are built on top of Azuro. While Azuro provides the backend decentralized infrastructure which makes betting possible. Many of these front-ends will look similar to the bookmakers of today. So betting there will be very, very similar.

Azuro will deliver a classic user experience with plentiful leagues, events and many, many betting markets, plus of course accumulator bets, and so on. That’s a core goal from the outset. Odds will also be represented just as a conventional bettor expects them (fractional, decimal etc.).

Some aspects will be nuanced, though – for example, bet cash-out (a player who exits their bet before the event is played) will be possible, but won’t be offered by the “house”. Bettors will be able to trade their bets in a decentralized marketplace.

But still, even more importantly – betting on blockchain may take completely different new forms which don’t exist today. Azuro may end up being integrated into blockchain games and we may see native, in-game betting as part of the gameplay. This is very easy in Web3 because everything is so composable. Or as another example – each bet on Azuro can be minted as an NFT, which means some bets may retain collectible value and be traded as collectibles. That’s new and exciting.

Q: What are the key challenges faced by conventional gaming?

A: The key challenge for players is that they play against the bookmakers. And they are not in equal positions. Almost all power is in the hands of the operators. And they may decline or delay payouts to players, push smart bettors out (as most actually do), close & lock accounts and so forth. Players can do very little to stop that usually.

Q: What is provably fair gaming?

A: First comes transparency – and blockchain brings that. Then – no custody of bettors’ funds. That means that no central authority takes the player’s money and decides what to do with them. With Azuro – that’s a smart contract (which automatically solves 99% of all bets), with an added dispute mechanism (for edge cases) where decisions can be taken in a decentralized way by voting.

Fair in my view is not an absolute measure. Nothing can ever be 100% fair. But we can get very close. And with Azuro’s decentralized betting protocol – we’ll do just that.

Q: Does this mean that conventional sites are not fair? Do they manipulate outcomes?

A: Yes in many cases it means just that, not fair. Or let’s say much less fair. Like for example – almost all bookmakers have algorithms to detect “smart” players (such who have a high probability to win their bets). Once a player is flagged – his account is limited so they can bet minimal amounts. Or not at all. Is this fair? I don’t think so.

Many bookmakers will trigger crazy rigorous checks on the player when there is a big win, more so than if the player isn’t winning…Yet, I don’t think we have to just sit and blame bookmakers. They are for-profit businesses and they are maximizing profit. It’s not a coincidence that all act similarly. Regarding manipulating outcomes – no, that’s very rare, at least amongst the better-known operators.

Q: What jurisdictional and regulatory limitations will being on the blockchain solve?

A: Being on the blockchain isn’t about evading (or “solving”) regulations. The blockchain, smart contracts and web3 provide an environment that allows for transparent, fairer and more engaging betting. That’s the main point.

Q: How has betting on the blockchain been able to revolutionize betting?

A: We haven’t seen it yet. True decentralized betting has so far been in the form of prediction markets and they never took off. There are big liquidity problems there, so there are not enough betting markets and also the UX is not particularly suitable for betting. So it doesn’t work. But the revolution is coming, watch out.

Q: Are gamers jumping on the blockchain bandwagon or is it proving difficult for them to change the way they game?

A: Firstly – bettors are totally using more and more cryptocurrency to bet with (i.e. for their deposits). That trend is super strong and not taking a break. As for betting on the blockchain – not yet, as said previously, because there weren’t good options. This is changing now.

Q: How does the future of blockchain gaming look?

A: It looks like azure skies – fully transparent. But also – community-run, with clear commitments to responsibility and with totally new aspects like bets as collectibles, decentralized secondary marketplaces for bets cash-out, and native betting within games on the blockchain. It will be fun!

The final word

So according to Yordanov blue skies ahead for blockchain gaming. In anyone’s view, taking a product, making it much more fair and transparent for the bettor can never be a bad thing. According to the jump in blockchain player numbers, apparently, the bettors agree. Certainly. exciting days ahead for blockchain-based gaming platforms and protocols.