As Australians dust off their fancy hats and seersucker suits for the Melbourne Cup, betting regulators won’t be having any fun in the sun.
Like years past, the Aussie racing season draws a host of international punters keen to try their luck. But this year something is different.
Many gamblers are turning to websites to bet with cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin.
Regulated betting is legal in Australia, however punters making online bets with cryptocurrencies will find themselves in hot water. These websites have no formal oversight and regulators warn of match-fixing.
One site in particular, 1xBit.com, has caught the attention of authorities.
The website’s pitch is innocent enough. “Are you a fellow sports enthusiast, and can’t find the right site to wager on?” it asks. “1xBit is the website for you.”
Gamblers can make bets on sport events all over the world, including Australia. It operates out of the control of regulators, and does not comply with any approved framework.
While “enthusiasts” rejoice, regulators are struggling to bring it under control.
Not to be Underestimated
In a recent article, ABC writer Jack Kerr spoke with sports lawyer Catherine Ordway to better understand the situation. She believes cryptocurrency betting will only become more popular, bringing with it increased risks.
“As the use of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies in sports betting becomes more prevalent, then the risk of match-fixing is heightened.”
It’s not just the academics and authorities saying so.
One Aussie who makes his living on the cryptocurrency markets spoke with the media under the pseudonym ‘Bitedge’.
On his website Bitedge.com, he uses his experience with sports betting to inform people of how cryptocurrencies are used to fix matches.
“It’s definitely not an imagined threat,” the man explained. “Professional athletes are mostly tech and gambling savvy young men in a career that will stop paying within 10 years.”
So who is behind the shadowy world of cryptocurrency betting?
Ray Murrihy, the retired chief steward of Racing New South Wales and current board member of Responsible Wagering Australia, has a clue.
“For those who don’t want integrity officers to see their betting, bitcoin adds another cloak of secrecy to it,” Ray Murrihy told the ABC.
The bets are essentially untraceable, just like the people behind them. Ordinary punters may fall into this category, but more likely it’s people who don’t want to be known.
The forecast is blue skies for the Melbourne Cup tomorrow, but in the shadowy world of bitcoin betting, light won’t be shining anytime soon.
Liz is a Canadian journalist and writer for Bitcoin Australia. Connect with her on Twitter @Elizabeth_Utley, or on Linkedin as Elizabeth Utley.