Betting and eSports

eSports

What are eSports?

eSports, also known as electronic sports, competitive video-gaming or pro gaming is a form of sports based around, as you might have already guessed, playing video-games competitively. This is one of the newer forms of gambling which has only really taken off in popularity in the last decade or so. This is due to many reasons, though it has been mainly aided by the proliferation and speed of modern internet and internet devices. Confused? Well the simple way of looking at it is this: eSports are video-games which, unlike pokies, were not created for the sake of gambling, but they are games in which the outcomes can still be gambled on.

They allow betting on this?

Much like anything considered a sport, yes, you can bet on it. Of course this type of sport doesn't yet have anything approaching the legacy of the like of rugby or football, so betting on it isn't as widespread, but it is there and it is growing. As is common with growing gambling markets it can be a bit tricky to find places willing to take bets on eSports, but they do exist, and we can help you find them and the eSport which is right for you.

How is this different from regular sports?

The first and most obvious difference between eSports and what most people thing of as sports is that video-games are not inherently a very physical experience. This means that just like with chess or card based games many die-hards would be unwilling to label such activities as sports.

We also have the environment in which eSports are played competitively. Most sports will require some sort of playing field, whereas this only really requires a computer, a network connection and a copy of the chosen game. While larger tournaments don't strictly require a large playing area the popularity of these games as well as the money involved leads to situations where entire stadiums are used as hosts. That's right – some of these eSports can routinely pull in crowds of thousands.

One of the most fundamental differences between eSports and regular sports is the constantly changing nature of electronic games. If you look at a sport such as football you can see the rules are largely static. These games and the rules within have often been settled decades ago, with only minor changes arising through the recent years. Electronic games are, in this regard, very different. While there are some games, such as Starcraft, which have been popular for decades, many of the most popular eSports games are those newer games which are less than a decade old. A key component of this is also what we call patches.

Patching and Balance

As the name suggests patches are additions which are made to games to fix holes or errors which might creep in. In reality it is often much more involved than that, as it brings up the issue of balance.

In regular sports it is common for both teams to play with the exact same set of rules. This means that the game remains as fair as it can possibly be. In electronic sports there is a key difference in that the different teams can often be composed of very different setups, with their behaviours sometimes being entirely different. There is a problem here in that the aim of the game, at least these professionally made competitive games, is to make each character roughly the same strength.

Take a fighting game for example. In a game like this there might be 20 different characters which a player can choose from. While some of these characters will excel in areas where others do not, and some will have better match-ups versus specific opponents than others, the general idea is that the developers want these characters to be roughly the same strength. The issue here is that when it comes to video-games the creators often make mistakes, or the players discover tactics which manage to circumvent or break the way the game was meant to be played. As with game errors these differences can be patched.

What does this mean?

What this means for both the competitors and the gamblers is that what is unstoppable one week might not be feasible at all for the next. This also means that the players themselves often go through cycles where their chosen character(s) or team jump from great to terrible, or vice versa.
Nash

A perfect example of this is the above character, Nash, from the divisive fighting game Street Fight 5. In the first season, which is the first year of this game, a very skilled player going by the name Infiltration discovered something which the developers were not aware of. Due to the slight lag which is built into the game, as well as the odd animation of Nash's forward dash, Infiltration was able to use this character to close the gap towards the enemy far faster than anyone was prepared for, and far faster than the developers expected. This meant that for the first year Infiltration was one of the most dominant players in the game.

The following year the game received its ‘2.0 patch', where his dash was fixed and put back to how it was originally envisioned. This change meant that Infiltration suffered with the character he was most familiar with. In fact a great many Nash players were forced to completely learn a new character because the work they had put into the game no longer meant much at all.

In terms of betting the result for this is similar to what you see in gambling for regular sports – those who are most successful are those who know and understand the game. When it comes to electronic sports knowledge of the changing nature of the game is of equal or greater importance.

How is this similar to regular sports?

While the methods in these games vary wildly the goal tends to be the same as in most sports – beat the opponent. Whether this means beating them with cards, taking out their mother base or defeating them in a certain set of matches changes depending on the type of game which is being played. Much like with the difference in regular sports, eSports have an enormous amount of variety. While the multitude of games on offer might not be a fit for everyone they do have enough to cater to the enjoyment of many. Check around, you might be as surprised as some of us were to find many of these quite enjoyable to watch.

Just as with regular sports, eSports has not been without its issues. Match fixing and poor behaviour aren't an especially uncommon sight in this world, though efforts are being made with the evolution of these sports to target and repair these problems.

Also like with regular sports there are a lot of different bets which can be placed on these games. Exactly which sort of bet you can place depends on exactly which type of game is being played, and how it has developed competitively.

What games are popular for eSport bets?

What's that old saying, if you can play it you can gamble on it? That might not be correct, but the sentiment is the same. While most games will offer bets at some point or another there is a definite set which is more commonly used in eSports than others.

To look at these we will separate them into genres, with each section giving a little bit of a background on what the genre is, and what the viewers and players can expect.

Real Time Strategy (RTS)

These are the games which, alongside early FPS games, brought competitive gaming to the mass market.

In these games each player acts as what is best thought of as a commander. At the start of these games the players traditionally start with only a few weak units to control and a mother base, which can spawn basic units for a cost. It is the duty of many of these base units to harvest resources which can then be spent on additional units as well as buildings, which can also unlock other units.

Speaking of upgrades – they are a huge factor in most RTS games. As the player gains more resources they can spend these on more powerful units, or they can often research certain technologies which can upgrade the units they have, or afford a multitude of other bonuses. The longer the game progresses the stronger the players bases and unit become, as they add defences, upgrades and additional units. This all builds to a confrontation where it is the goal of each player to destroy the mother base of the other. The one who does this first is the winner of the game.

These stand out from the more popular MOBA games of today by the share amount of actions that a player must take. Whereas in MOBA games the player only has control over a single unit, in RTS games each player can be in direct command of dozens, even up to well over a hundred, at the same time. This means a constant juggling between different units, assigning groups, queuing actions, setting formations, upgrading, base building, attacking and defending. It is because of this that these games are slightly more impenetrable than their MOBA cousins, which might explain their waning in popularity over the last decade.

Starcraft 2

Starcraft 2

The sequel to the grand-daddy of competitive RTS games, which I guess makes this the great-grand-daddy, or perhaps just the father? Pointless semantics aside, Starcraft 2, from Blizzard Entertainment, is the biggest name in RTS games at the moment.

The game itself is much of a simple modern update of the original Starcraft, and that is by no means a bad thing. There are three races which players can choose from: the Terrans, the Protoss and the Zerg.

The Terrans are human, far removed from Earth and forced into a desperate fight for survival. Just like humans they have a wide range of political problems, and tend to solve these problems with the use of gun. These guys rely on long range weaponry to hold off and destroy their opponents.

The Protoss are a advanced race of aliens who use their superior technology and psionic abilities to deal with those who would oppose them. These guys thought they were hot shit for a long time, until the Zerg came along and showed them that quantity is a pretty decent counter to quality.

The Zerg are a collection of what might most easily be described as enormous, advanced and very angry space-bugs. These guys overcome their opponents through shear numbers, often finding their victory with the much famed Zerg Rush.

Despite being over 7 years old at this point Starcraft still holds up very, and doesn't seem at all to be giving up its place of King of RTS. With the recently announced remaster of Starcraft 1 coming later in 2017 this might not remain the case…

MOBAs

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games, also known as ARTS (Action Real-Time Strategy) are a genre which is based around a team of around 5 players, each controlling one specific character. This is one of, or the most, popular type of eSports game currently active. The largest prize-pool for these types of games can exceed $20 million. Certainly not bad.

Just like what happened with Counter Strike, which we will touch on in our FPS segment, MOBA games reached peak popularity because of what is called a mod. A mod, or modification, is a term given to a project which changes the way a game is played. These can be as minor as a the changing of a single colour or menu option to as drastic as a complete game overhaul. The first major MOBA, Defence of the Ancients (DOTA) was one such mod. Since that time this has become one of the most popular forms of video-games, both in terms of eSports and regular play.

Like first person shooters these games are almost always played on computers. This is because playing them well requires a huge amount of calculated button presses. As a keyboard and mouse are both faster and more accurate than controllers they are the go-to here.

MOBA Layout

MOBA map

Above is a fairly standard example of the type of map on which MOBA games are played.

Not shown on the map are the other smaller computer controlled monsters, commonly called mobs, which can appear in two ways. Firstly there are stronger monsters which hang around various parts of the map. These monsters often give higher rewards and bonuses for being defeated, though they are too strong for players to fight at the start of the game. The second set of monsters start, or spawn, from the corner home-base of each team. These monsters split up, as they take one of the coloured paths to the opposing teams mother-base.

On the way there the mobs will face players from the other team, mobs from the other team, and towers which sit at certain parts of the map. These towers put out high damage, but can only hit one target at a time. Unlike the mobs, which will keep spawning in waves until the game is complete, towers remain broken once defeated.

MOBA Goals

The general rules around these games revolve around two teams of five, each starting in opposing corners. These five characters on each team are chosen from a roster of dozens. Each player aims to choose a character which works well for them, supports the rest of their team and allows them to counter what characters they think the opposite players will employ.

At the start it is standard for the team to split up. Two teams of two take either side lane and one takes the centre. They travel down these lanes with the ultimate goal of destroying their opponents home-base building. On the way there the character will have to fight the enemy players, mobs and the towers which line the lanes.

To make this easier the players gain currency and levels while they play. The currency can be used to purchase gear, whereas the levels increase a character's general strength and give access to new abilities.

MOBA Examples

For these examples we will look at three of the largest and most popular MOBAs being played today.

DOTA 2

DOTA 2

The most popular and populated game on the MOBA list. This is a direct sequel to the game which largely created the genre, DOTA 1.

DOTA 2 boasts a roster of 113 playable characters and some of the largest prize-pools in the business. This is on top of the F2P game model.

This is one of the more new user friendly games. At least this is as far as MOBA games go, as they tend to require a lot of learning. Thankfully finding tutorials isn't difficult, given the popularity of the game. At the time of writing this article the game averages around 400,000 players at any given time. This means you'll never have to wait long for a game, if you decide to get in on the action.

This game is owned and operated by the folks over at Valve. These are the people who own the Steam software service, who are also responsible for the Half-Life, Portal and Left 4 Dead series.

League of LegendsLeague of Legends

Number two in the MOBA popularity game. League of Legends (LoL) has a playable roster of 134 characters. Unlike in DOTA these characters are not all unlocked when the game is downloaded. Instead there are a few characters given to everyone. The additional characters need to be purchased. These can be purchased with either real money or the currency gathered by playing games.

Like DOTA 2 this game runs a F2P model. Wondering how these game can survive when they don't charge for the base game? Well, in 2016 the game earned over $700 Million. Not bad, not bad at all.

Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm

The final of the big three comes from Blizzard Entertainment. These are the men and women who created Diablo, Warcraft, Starcraft, Hearthstone and Overwatch. Unlike the other MOBA games available the characters in this game come from other properties. This includes selections from Diablo, Starcraft, Warcraft and Overwatch. With a total of 68 characters the roster is smaller than the others, though the characters more familiar.

This is another game which operates on the F2P model. Like with LoL there are certain amount of free characters to choose from. Additional characters must be purchased with in-game or real currency.

Fighting Games

If you've payed any attention to video-games over the last 3 decades you probably already know this genre. These are games where the match-up is one player versus one player. Commonly these games are split into one on one fighters and team matches. The goals of these game is quite simple: deplete the opponents life bar(s).

Unlike with MOBAs or FPSs these games can be played quite well on consoles. While many traditional players stick to custom arcade pads to control this game they are not required. In fact the winner of the SF5 Capcom Cup in 2016 did so on a regular controller. There have even been cases of people playing with outdated Playstation 1 controllers beating those on arcade pads, so don't buy into the hype that arcade sticks are necessary.

One on One

One on one games work just as they sound. One person chooses one character, the other chooses a character, and they fight. While it is entirely possible, in most games, to switch character between matches it isn't as common as the uninitiated might think. Getting to play on a professional level required an enormous amount of practice with a single character. Because of this the players often have one ‘main', with other sub character being learned to lesser degree. This is often seen as necessary because of the concept of match-ups. The idea here is similar to rock-paper-scissors. Character 1 has an advantage over character 2 while character 2 has an advantage over character 3. Character 3 has an advantage over character 1. This is not to say that in this scenario it would be impossible for character 2 to beat character 1, it would just be more difficult.

Team Games

Team fighting games commonly consist of 3-on-3 fights. With these games the players each select 3 fighters to enter the game. During this game the player can switch out between these characters. Once all of the health-bars of all of one team are depleted the other player wins. There is huge opportunity for diversity and strategy here when it comes to team make-up. Some players will want to go for long-range characters protected by short-range high defence characters. Other might choose rush-down characters and teams to overwhelm the opponents.

Street Fighter 5

Street Fighter 5

The latest in one of the oldest and most popular fighting games series to exist. Street Fighter 5 is considered by many professional players, and regular players alike, to be, well, not very good. This is a game which has been developed for eSports. This means it is a lot of fun to watch, but playing it comes down to luck far more often than it should. Patching in a seemingly random way, as well as releasing the game in what was effectively a beta state,  combined with a small roster, most of which are locked behind a paywall in an already full-priced game means that this is a game which, while still popular competitively (mostly due to the prize-pools), is widely regarded as a disappointing effort.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

A team fighter with characters from both Capcom games and Marvel games included. Ever wonder how a match-up of Spiderman, Chun-li and Rocket Raccoon would do versus Wolverine, Ryu and the Hulk? Well, now you can play it out for yourself.

This is one of the more difficult games to follow for unfamiliar players. This is largely due to the flashy nature of the game. Colours explode all over the place, attacks take up large chunks of the screen and characters constantly jump in and out of combat. As usual this is a game which is a lot easier to appreciate, and gamble on, if you've played it first.

While there is a new entry in this series, MvC: Ultimate, coming out soon, indications are that Capcom has pulled a Capcom with that game, as they did with Street Fighter 5.

Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros.

This one is about as divisive as you get with video-games. Many players don't consider this to be a real fighting game. Heck, the creator of the series himself has pushed to make the game more casual and less competitive. Despite this the game is still one of the longest lasting and most popular ‘fighting' series available.

In general this game could be called a mascot fighter, like Marvel Vs Capcom. In the Smash games players choose single characters from a roster consisting of many Nintendo and other video-game characters. This means you can have Sonic, Mario, Link and Solid Snake all fighting each-other at the same time.

There are a couple of main differences between the way this is played and how most fighting games operate.

The first is that in Smash the players knock the opponents of the level to win. This is accomplished by simply hitting them. Each hit will build up a percentage bar. The higher that this bar goes the more knock-back is generated for each attack. Once a character is knocked off the stage they are reset and placed back on the stage.

The second way is that Smash requires a lot of options to be switched off in order to make it competitive. This means 2 players, rather than 4, none of the items which regularly spawn around in normal play, and only certain stage are allowed.

First Person Shooters (FPS)

First person shooters are some of the easiest to understand from the name alone. The player controls a character in first person view. This character shoots. If you've ever seen Doom or Quake you have a general idea of what is going on.

Originally these games were played 1 vs 1, but recently team games have replaced this. While there are many tournaments held for these game on consoles they tend towards being played on computers. This is because, again, the mouse any keyboard is faster and more accurate than a controller can be. This is obviously not the case for games which are only released on console, such as the Halos.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter Strike: Global Offensive

The sequel to a mod which completely changed the gaming world. In this game a team of terrorist set about an objective. At the same time an opposing team of counter-terrorists do their best to stop them.

The objectives tend to centre around one of two things. The first is the planting and detonation of a bomb by the terrorists. The second is the rescue of hostages by the counter-terrorists. In both types the opposite team does their best to stop the other team.

At the beginning of a match the players are able to purchase weapons and equipment. These range from shields to guns and grenades. The more rounds are played the more money both team gets, so the more deadly they become. Of all the first person games being played competitively this is the most popular. Following this in popularity is the regular Counter-Strike. As this is so similar we won't cover it, instead we'll move on to…

Overwatch

Overwatch

The newest FPS sensation from the team which brought us Diablo, Hearthstone, Warcraft and Starcraft.

In this team-based hero shooter two teams of 6 work together to complete various objectives. These range from holding a position to pushing a cart, or capturing a flag and returning it to base.

This game is notable in that it includes the type of hero system you often see in MOBAs. Each character in this game is unique, and brings their individual abilities to the table. While this generally revolves around the holy trinity this is not always the case.

Victory in Overwatch comes down to map awareness, team composition and, obviously, player skill.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

Another series which many non-gamers would already have heard of. Call of Duty (CoD) games are some of the most popular FPS games, and we can see a fine example of that here.

As with the other FPS games on this list the players are set on two teams. As with the other CoD games the players can customise much of the gear, or loadout, as they head into the game.

There is a lot of variety when it comes to game modes on offer by competitive CoD Black Ops 3. From the standard team death-match to search and destroy – there is much to choose from.

Other Games

While there are certainly established and popular genres there are also a few genres which only have one huge and visible game which is played competitively.

Hearthstone

The third game on this list from Blizzard Entertainment.

This game takes its name and inspiration from the Warcraft series. Hearthstone is, simply put, a competitive card game. In this game the player builds their own deck based off a specific theme. Once in game the players take turns placing their monsters and doing their best to use their monsters and magic to attack the opponents life points. The further in the game the players get the more energy they are awarded at the start of their turns, which enables them to slowly use more movies and more powerful cards.

This is a free to play game which is also available on mobile devices. If the following looks like it might be up your alley:
Hearthstone Gameplay Then download it and give it a go. Learning the game is quite simple, and it's a lot of fun.

Where can I gamble on eSports?

Most gambling websites do not offer all that much when it comes to betting on real sports, whether regular or electronic. Because of the difficultly of acquiring licenses and working out the logistic issues only a few of the largest websites, or some of the smaller but directly targeted, offer gambling on eSports. That said we have some reviews on a few of the best casino's which offer eSport bets. Check out reviews below to find the one which is the right fit for you!

Gaming Terminology

AAA

Also called ‘triple A'. This is the term given to the largest games which have most money put into them. Major releases from EA, Ubisoft, Bethesda, etc, will generally fall into this camp.

Aimbot

A common cheating program in FPS games. Aimbot programs insert themselves into the game so that the player using it either only needs to aim slightly, or not at all. When active the players aim might automatically snap to the head of another, granting guaranteed huge damage.

Artifical Intelligence (AI)

The programming given to NPCs and the game which allows them to act in a way which simulates real player behaviour and actions. A difficult thing to create, and something which is often exploited.

Beta

A state of a game which is still being bugtested. This is the form which games take before they are considered good enough for launch. Recently it has been increasingly common to release full-priced AAA games in what many people consider to be beta states, such as Street Fighter 5.

Buff

This is a beneficial effect given to a player.

Bunny Hopping

A skill common to many FPS games. Generally the idea is that by jumping at the right time, commonly including other movement aspects, the player is able to maintain or gain speed in excess of which could regularly be achieved. For example in Half-Life the maximum run speed could be 15 units a second (just an example). Bunny hopping in such a game could raise this maximum move speed to 200 units a second. Often very tricky to pull off, especially in a competitive environment.

Camp

The act of sticking in one particular advantageous spot and waiting for the enemies to come to you. Generally held in poor regard, as players who stick to this method slow down the entire game, which can end in a gridlock if multiple players decide to camp.

Cheese

A method of winning which takes advantage of a flaw in the game.

Class

The character type which a player has chosen. These types fit specific roles, often falling somewhere in the holy trinity.

Cooldown

The time after an ability is used which determines when it next becomes active. For example a move with a 1 minute cooldown could not be used again until a minute has passed.

Crouch-Jump

An oddity which allows the player to reach a higher than normal. Achieved by crouching after the player has jumped, pulling their legs up so they can land on a platform.

Deathmatch

A type of game mode where the objective is to kill the enemy players more than they kill you.

DPS

Stands for Damage Per Second. This is a simple way of saying these are the characters focused on dealing out damage.

Exploit

An unofficial and unexpected method of achieving an end. Bunny hopping is a common form of exploit. Oddly enough these can be adopted into later games officially, if they prove enjoyable.

F2P

Free to play. The term given to games which do not have to be purchased to play. These games use avenues to gather revenue. Commonly this comes in the form of cosmetic changes. These are costumes or other changes which do not actually give an advantage, but allow the player to bring some of their own attitude into the game.

Farming

Sticking in an area and repeating an action, killing, harvesting, etc, which will slowly increase the strength or resources of a player or team. Also called grinding.

Field of View

The area in which a player has vision within a game. Generally this is supposed to appear similar to the field of view a human has.

Fog of War

The effect in RTS and MOBA games where the players cannot see certain areas. These areas are hidden behind this ‘fog' and are only revealed either once they have been visited or when a unity is currently standing in that location.

FPS

This one has two major meanings in modern gaming. The first is First Person Shooter – a game set from the first person perspective where shooting is the main aim.

It can also stand for Frames Per Second, which indicates how many static images appear on screen per second to give the impression of movement. The higher the frame-rate the better the game feels and the better it plays, in almost all scenarios. 60 FPS is seen as the standard minimum for competitive gaming.

Frag

Another word used for a point gained by a kill.

Gank

To kill another player in unfair circumstances. For example a ganker might be a twink who hangs around low level areas and fights new players.

Griefer

Someone who takes it upon themselves to ruin the game for other players.

Healer

Character whose role is primarily to heal other characters

Holy trinity

The term given to the three main class components of many games. This includes the healer, the tank and the dps.

Kill Streak

The result of getting defeating multiple opponents in quick succession. This can result in different effects, depending on the game. Some might give higher resource payouts, and others can unlock certain single use abilities – such as the helicopter or nukes in Call of Duty.

Lag

The delay experienced between players on a network or server. This is an inevitable result of playing games over vast distances. The further the players are from each-other the long the signal will take. This is why online games tend to be separated into regions, at least when it comes to games which rely on quick reactions.

Main

The primary character used by a player

MMORPG

Massively multiplayer online role-playing game. A game where hundreds or thousands of people can play together on a single server. Think World of Warcraft or Everquest.

MOBA

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena

Noob

Also called Newb, Nub, N00b, etc. A new player who does not know or understand much of the game.

NPC

Non-player character. Exactly as it sounds, a character inside of a game which is not controlled by a human.

PvP

Player vs. Player, aka the standard for most online competitive gaming. The alternative to this is PvE, or player vs. environment where the fights are against the computer controlled opponents.

Rush-down

The act of quickly closing the gap to prevent the opponent from getting their plan started

Speed Run

A sport where players compete to see who can complete various games, with various rules, in the shortest amount of time. Generally not played live, as gaining world records can take many thousands of attempts. The main exclusion to this is with Games Done Quick, which takes place multiple times a year, and shows off various speed runs and speed running tricks while gathering donations from online spectators.

Steam

A digital game marketplace with many additional features. Owned by Valve, who used to make games but now make money, this is the most popular online distribution system currently available. Despite being the stick against which all others are measured the system itself can be quite faulty. Many bugs in this software have existed for years without being addressed.

Tank

A character whose main purpose is to take draw attacks from the other team. As tanks tend to have higher defence and health than regular units they can survive more than most. Supported by the healer.

Twink

A low level character who has been designed by the player to fight out of their league. This is commonly accomplished by using gear far superior to the gear a player would have at a certain level, and then never levelling again. Used to give the player a huge edge over others in the same level range.

Wall Hack

A hack as common as the Aimbots. This hack allows the cheaters using it to see players through walls, giving them an enormous advantage.

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Bitcoins and Gambling

BitcoinWhat is Bitcoin?

A little odd, and a little complicated, but once you know the basics it is fairly easy to understand for simple uses. In the most basic possible terms – Bitcoin is digital payment system and what is known as a cryptocurrency.

What is cryptocurrency? This is a digital asset which uses codes and mathematics to both secure the transactions using this currency and control the creation of additional units. Like with standard digital currency this can be separated into fractions of the base unit.

What does this mean for the average user? We could think of it as a type of currency which can be generated by the user freely (though it usually won't be these day's, see below) and is scarce enough to have value as a type of indirect cash. When Bitcoins are generated or used in a transaction they are measured against the international network of code, which helps to ensure that there are no cheats or duplicates, so that the coins remain valid. This is different from systems such as Paypal in that Bitcoins check against each-other, rather than a centralised network.

Creation of Bitcoin

We don't actually know who was the originally creator of Bitcoin. Commonly a man known as Satoshi Nakamoto of Japan is thought of as the originator, but we have little information detailing who this man actually is, or if that is in fact his real name. Once Satoshi released the source code, essentially the building blocks for the code, it was adopted by more and more people.

In the early days of Bitcoin is was easily possible for a user to generate their own coins. This is because there are a realistically limited quantity of coin codes codes which can be calculated, and at the beginning only a few of these codes had been generated. This meant that early adopters set up what is known as Bitcoin miners. These were essentially computers which had been programmed to crunch the code, and come up with the code for additional coins, then add this information into the database. As time went on the more basic codes were covered, so the computers have had to apply more time and power into mining the same amount of coins.

Over time it effectively because untenable for single computers to uncover coins, so larger operations were adopted. Commonly this came in the form of multiple linked computers which were dedicated to mining. Less common was the user of nastier tricks in order to generate money.

Bot-Nets

As time went on and the cost of mining coins increased it became increasing expensive to mine Bitcoins, so other solutions were found. Bitcoin farms, huge groups of purpose built computers, were put into play by some operators. Others went for what is called bot-nets.

A botnet, in our case, is a system of computers linked the internet which have been employed to mine coins. What is the difference between this and farming? Well, in the case of botnets those who generate the coins are unaware they are doing so.

Botnet

This was achieved by infecting computers with virus-like programs which would run without the users knowledge or consent. These would run in the background, taking a portion of computer resources and dedicating them to Bitcoin mining. By using only part of a computer's full power they could effectively remain hidden. The fact that these programs often had no other ill effect means that the slight slowdown was either unnoticed, or written off as an ageing computer or some other issue. The fact that these were also not as harmful as other programs meant they weren't targeted by anti-virus programs at anywhere near the same rate as nastier programs.

Bot-net infections

How did they sneak these into people's computers? There are a few ways in which this type of infection became easier. The first is by adding them to those annoying toolbar like programs which are often advertised to browsers and come with more useful programs. While more advanced users avoid installing these, average users might not. The second way, which proved to be very useful, was the inclusion of these programs through BitTorrent downloads. For those unaware – BitTorrent is a type of file-sharing which has effectively taken the place of earlier efforts such as Napster or Kazaa. Torrents offer a greater level of anonymity and are harder to shutdown, so they became a defacto form of software and media piracy for those interested.

While not commonly inserted into movies or music, computer programs became prime targets. Illegal game and program downloads would sometimes come with these botnet programs installed. This meant that particularly popular programs could be illegally downloaded and infect tens of thousands of people easily, and without their knowledge. Over time people have become more aware of this method, so anti-virus and malware programs have now largely adapted and now search out this software.

Reliability of Bitcoin

So, what does all of this mean for Bitcoin, and where does it stand today in terms of usability? The idea behind Bitcoin is that is had a set rarity, in that we have reached a point where only enormous operations can realistically generate further coins (more on this in a moment), so now the price should stabilise, right? Well, no, not really.

Bitcoin prices

Let's put it this way – a single Bitcoin was originally worth somewhere around 30c US. From here is has jumped and dropped, bubbled and burst more than once. Without any sort of market regulation the currency has been left at the mercy of the free market, and she has not been reliable. At the time of writing this article 1 Bitcoin equals around $2400 US. Yikes.

How to use Bitcoin

Step 1: Acquiring Bitcoins

We'll stick to the most user friendly methods here.

  • There are number of ways in which a newcomer can acquire Bitcoins. The first is by simply purchasing them from Bitcoin traders such as Coinbase and Xapo.
  • Purchase from a real person. If somebody you know owns Bitcoins then you might be able to work out a deal with them. This is obviously not feasible for everyone. You can use the Local Bitcoin website to try to find a dealer near you.
  • Withdraw from a Bitcoin ATM. There are places all over the world which allow users to convert their money into Bitcoins via ATMs. These are quite rare and usually charge around a 6% trade fee. To see if there are any of these around you try checking the Coin ATM Radar website.

    Step 2: Set up a Bitcoin Wallet

    What use is money without a way to store it? Bitcoins can be stored online via various websites, on your mobile devices and on hardware devices, for a start. There are other methods but these are often cumbersome of difficult, so we will focus on the more basic methods.

  • Web Wallets store you bitcoins, as you might have guessed, online. This means that access to them requires an active internet connection. The most popular of these web wallet systems is Blockchain.
  • Mobile Wallets allow the user with them, on their mobile devices. These tend to be a little bit more hack-proof than desktop computers, and allow the user to have the Bitcoins on them at near all times. There are a number of programs here, we recommend Jaxx or BitPay.
  • Hardware Wallets are small devices that act as your Bitcoin wallet. These are similar to Flashpen like devices, with additional storage and security measures. Probably the safest method, though they can be a little expensive. We recommend Trezor or Ledger.

Step 3: Create a Bitcoin address

The wallet which is created for you will create a public address, this is what is used as a sort of email address which is used for the sake of sharing Bitcoins. This will be displayed as what appears to be a random mess of letters and numbers.

Step 4: Verify it's working

By sending a small amount of Bitcoins to your public address you should be able to check that all is working well. Confirmation will usually take less than 20 minutes.

Step 5: You're good to go!

Now that you know the basics you can use your Bitcoins with those places which accept their use. Need a list of casino's which accept Bitcoins? See below…

Where can Bitcoins be used?

Need some direct links to online casinos which use BitCoin? Check out our links below. Just be sure to pay close attention, as some of these don't have the licenses they should. This is common with BitCoin casinos, but the user should still stay aware.

The Future of Bitcoin

So, where does the future lie in Bitcoins? That is a very good question, and not one which I am fully equipped to answer. There are those economists, much better educated on finance than myself, who swear Bitcoin is the way of the future. There are others who claim that Bitcoin is a total waste of time, and is so volatile that it should not be trusted. What it really comes down to is time-frame. If you are going to be using them for a short period of time then you should be absolutely fine using Bitcoins. Storage over long times mean that your Bitcoins might appreciate, or lose their value, we just don't know.

Remember, if you have Bitcoins: Keep an eye on their value, and be ready to cash out if you need to.

Problem Gambling

Gambling Addiction

What is Problem Gambling?

Problem gambling, also known as ludomania, gambling addiction and compulsive gambling presents itself as an uncontrollable compulsion to gamble despite ongoing negative consequences or a desire to stop. The harm which is caused by this gambling is not strictly limited to the gambler themselves, and can extend to the gamblers friends, family or other close ones. In its most severe cases problem gambling can actually be viewed as a clinical problem, should the gambler meet the right criteria. This is a common disorder all over the world which has an immense personal and social cost to both the affected individuals and society at large.

In the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), psychologists have noted that many sufferers exhibit similarities to those with substance addictions. This is helpful in that by identifying this commonality those in the field have managed to increase the effectiveness of their treatment plans, on both side of the issue.

While there is a vocal group who claim that gambling addiction only appears in certain types of games, such as pokies, professionals have determined that any act which follows the general rules of gambling can have an addicting effect.

Fortunately for those suffering from this type of addiction, and for those who have somebody close who is affected, there are many organisations set up to identify when gambling becomes a problem, and lead those afflicted to the necessary help.

How to know if you have a problem

Quantifying and understanding whether you or someone close to you has a problem can be difficult without the right type of help. People tend to under-represent their own addictions, while friends and those close to the affected can both under and over-represent the present dangers.

How, then, can we tell if we or someone close to us has a problem? Thankfully there are many websites and organisations devoted to helping those with problem gambling, most of which can be extremely helpful in some way or another.

The official Gamblers Anonymous website, run out of Los Angeles USA, has an entire section dedicated to 20 questions which can help the user determine whether or not they might have a problem.

For a link to this simple questionnaire you can follow this link here.

The questions included within this form include those such as:

  • Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
  • Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
  • Have you ever sold anything in order to finance gambling?

Once the user has clicked either yes or no for all of these options they will be then give some advice and links which prove extremely helpful. For a website more focused on an international reach users can click here to visit, or they can follow this link for the Australian Lifeline link. The Lifeline Australia link also contains details on fact sheets and coping kits, all of which can be extremely helpful in dealing with the issue.

Problem Gambling

Seeking Help

While understanding that you have a problem is an enormous and often very difficult first step, it is only that – a step. From here it's best to go out and seek help. While many of those who suffer from the problem may be inclined to try to tackle the problem themselves it should be noted that success rates rise sharply when this is attempted with outside help, and with a proper support structure.

Each country tends to have its own system in place for problem gambling support. In this case, since we are an Australian website, we will link examples from Australia. If you are in another country a quick and easy way to find the relevant help is by a google search for local problem gambling help, which should direct you to a local page.

For Australian users there are a few links here to the previously mentioned Lifeline site which can prove very helpful. The first is the service finder which can be found here. On this page users from Australia can enter their location data, after which the system will search for the closest available free or low cost health and community centers. These often offer direct help for those who wish to take advantage of their knowledgeable staff and programs.

For those feeling a desperate direct problem rising this section might be more useful. Here the user can chat with staff between the hours of 7pm and 4pm (Sydney Time) for short term support.

For other chat lines Australian users can click here. This section gives links to a couple of other help lines, one of which runs 24 hours a day. The helpful responders on the other end of the line can help talk things through in the short term, and can aid in recommending more long-term actions and treatment for problem gambling.

What about Self Exclusion?

There are tools, for those interested, which work to block access from a computer to gambling websites, much in the same way porn blockers work on minors. There are many different versions of this software available, with Betfilter, Gamban and Gamblock being popular tools within this market. If these programs are too expensive then you can try free programs such as K9 Web Protection. When it comes to blocking off these websites there are a great variety of general website blocking tools which can be found for free with a little google searching and can be modified easily to block off gambling websites.

In many cases these can also be installed on mobile devices in order to protect both the home computer and secondary device access.

Finally we have the blocking tools which are included on many popular gambling websites themselves. While this may only be useful if players have a specific favourite website which they stick to, in this case these programs work perfectly. The problem is that not all gambling websites have the manpower or social interest to create such sections, so there a lot of gambling websites which are not covered. In our casino reviews we tend to list whether or not the casino includes such an area in the Other Services section of our reviews.

Final Notes

There is a lot of shame and stigma attached to addiction of any form. It is important to know that compassion and understanding are infinitely more important and effective for treating addiction than snide or underhanded remarks, or judgments. Problem gambling is something which lives best in the dark, unannounced and unaddressed.

Bringing such topics into the light, to share your problems or the problems of those you care about is to help everyone involved. It might not be easy, and it may not quick, but ultimately only by addressing these issues rather than ignoring them can we make any real degree of progress.

Remember: Firm but compassionate, tolerant but not enabling. The path to well-being is often wrought with missteps and mistakes, but it is only by walking this path that we can truly help ourselves and the people who we care about.

A common sight in live poker

Skrill, Neteller, Paysafe and Gambling

Skrill, Neteller and Paysafe General Information

On this page you will find all that you need to know about Skrill, Neteller, and Paysafe. These are three of the largest and most commonly used online monetary systems used with online gambling. Here we will cover a brief explanation of each, as well their history, and where they can be used.

When it comes down to the way the act – all of these systems are fundamentally similar. Each of the three of these act as online wallets where a user can both deposit and withdraw money for use for various websites and products.Skrill

What is Skrill?

Skrill, formerly known as Moneybookers, is a e-commerce business which lets users transfer money through the internet. Former in 2001, Skrill quickly grew into one of the largest and most popular online money systems available.  Part of the reason for this popularity, as is similar with the rest of the systems in this article, is that Skrill could be used for online gambling. This is important because the largest name in the business, Paypal, had a period where they dropped out of the gambling finance game. The gap which it had left was jumped on by a few major systems, Skrill being one of them.

In March of 2015 Skrill was purchased by Optical Payments, the company behind the rival system called Neteller.Neteller

What is Neteller?

Neteller, similar to Skrill, is an e-money system which is popular in the world of online gambling. Launched in 1999, Neteller started in Canada but was moved to the Isle of Man in 2004. Much like Skrill, Neteller covered the gap left by Paypal when it came to the online gambling market. At one point Neteller was responsible for processing around 80% of the worlds online gambling money. Certainly an impressive feat.

Despite having such a huge part in the market, Neteller struggled as it entered the second decade of the new millennium. This issue has somewhat subsided since their parent company gained a greater market share with the acquisition of Skrill.Paysafe

What is Paysafe?

The oldest of the three systems we are looking at, Paysafe was founded in 1996. Based in the Isle of Man and regulated in the United Kingdom, Paysafe now owns an enormous share of the online finance game.

Their premier product, the Paysafecard, acts much in the same way as the other two system. Simply put – it is a type of online wallet and credit card system. While this can be used in many sites, where it matters to us is online gambling.

Security Systems and Safety

Online Security

As you would expect, these systems use a number of features to protect their users. Each of these now use similar systems. This is a case of the parent company taking the best and most viable methods of online security and applying them across all three products. These include two of the main measures in place for modern online security.

  • High levels of encryption – here they submit to the highest standards of Payment Card Industry Data Security (PCI-DSS Level 1). This means that the user's data is unreadable even when intercepted.
  • Two-Factor Authentication – This provides an additional level of security. It does this by requiring users to enter a code sent the user's phone, in addition to standard login details and passwords.
Additional Security Information

These are just a few of the many systems in place to protect against fraud and theft. This it not say that the system is perfect, however. As with any online system, these require that the user keeps their end of the system secure in order for their systems to truly work. This means that if you use these systems, especially if you have a lot of money in that account, you should also be sure that the rest of you computer system is secure. This means regular virus and malware scans.

This is generally good advice for anyone who uses online gambling services, as if you have a lot of money tied up in these services you could possibly lose a lot.

For malware you can head on over to Malwarebytes. Their free program is one of the best when it comes to removing a variety of software which can open the door for hackers and thieves.

When it comes to virus protection and management you can head over to Avast and grab their free virus scanner. Your computer, and your wallet, might end up thanking you.

Not Supported Countries

While the systems attempt to cover as much as it can, in terms of locations, there are areas where it is no supported. This is usually because of the laws of the country, or sanctions placed against them.

Exactly which countries are supported changes depending on the exact type of system which is used, and the shifting economic and political climate. For more information on where these can be used check out the Skrill website, the Neteller website and the Paysafe website.

How does it Work / What do I need?

In general terms the user will need a bank account, though a credit card can also be useful.

Skrill

To sign up for Skrill the user must first go to the website and use a valid email address and user information in order to generate an account. This includes name, address and a valid phone number.

There are currently five main methods of placing money into a Skrill account. This includes bitcoin (1% fee), manual bank transfer (free), credit or debit card, Neteller account (3% fee) and by Paysafecard (7.5% fee).

Neteller

Signing up for Neteller requires an email address, password, currency selection and an address and valid phone number. Once this is filled out the user will be given a 5 digit secure ID, which should be memorised.

There are a total of ten different ways to deposit money into a Neteller account. These ways and their processing fees are as follows:

  • International bank transfer – Free
  • Bitcoin – 1%
  • VisaCredit – 1.9%
  • VisaDebit – 1.9%
  • VisaElectron – 1.9%
  • POLi – 2%
  • Maestro – 2.25%
  • Mastercard Credit – 2.25%
  • Mastercard Debit – 2.25%
  • Skrill – 3%

Paysafecard

Signing up for a Paysafecard requires personal information, location information and an email address and telephone number for account confirmation.

As Paysafecard requires what is effectively a prepaid credit card purchase from a live store they have no method of direct deposit. Instead, users who have signed up to this site can use the website to search for nearby physical stores where they can purchase a Paysafecard. When this purchase is complete the user can go online to the Paysafe website and enter the pin code on their card to add the card to their online account.

Where can I use these systems to gamble?

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Luckily these three methods are among the most popular gambling finance systems online. This means that the majority of gambling websites work with at least one of these systems. If you want a more direct list then you can check out the list below for some supported websites, and links to our reviews of those sites.

Stay safe, and good luck!

PayPal and Gambling

Paypal

PayPal  General Information

On this page you will find all that you need to know about PayPal. This includes information on what it is, where it used, security details and what it means for online gambling.

What is PayPal?

The owning company, PayPal Holding Inc. is based out of San Jose, California,  USA. Their system, PayPal,  is one of the world's largest online payment systems, and has been for some time.

Established in 1998 by Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek, Ken Howery and Elon Musk, PayPal aimed to take part in the growing trend of using the internet as a business and payment tool. Since then they have massively expanded into what we know today.

The reason why PayPal became so popular comes down to the slot it filled in what people needed. As the internet grew and sales sites such as eBay rose in popularity new payment systems were investigated. While credit cards were still popular, the early age of the internet was rife with information scams and fraud. In part, PayPal became similar to a second bank account. This could protect the majority of a persons holdings, while also offering an additional set which could be used online.

Payment methods such as PayPal were not originally so heavily accepted. This changed over time as it became increasingly obvious that this was the way of the future.

Security Systems and Safety

Paypal Security

As you would expect, this system uses a number of safety and protection measures to help its users. These include:

  • A 180 day period where a customer using the service can file a complaint and request a refund. This is most useful when a purchased good is not what was promised.
  • Protection for the seller. This system includes a way for sellers to protect themselves in certain situations. These include proof of delivery and initial acceptance by the receiver.
  • Security tokens. These are an optional key offered to users which count as additional protection against fraud. This is from either a card sent to the user or a text message sent to owners cell phone. This is so useful because in the case of internet fraud the criminals will usually not have access to such information.
  • Location and other tracking. By using a simple system which checks the users location by their I.P address the service can tell the general location where the service is being accessed. If, for example, you withdrew some money into an account from New Zealand one day and the next day a withdrawal was attempted in Spain , the system would recognise that this was unlikely, given they are on opposite sides of the planet. In this case proof would be needed by email, text or security tokens in order for the account owner to be known.
Additional Security Information

These are just a few of the many systems in place to protect against fraud and theft. This it not say that the system is perfect, however. As with any online system, PayPal required that the user keeps their end of the system secure in order for their systems to truly work. This means that if you use PayPal, especially if you have a lot of money in that account, you should also be sure that the rest of you computer system is secure. This means regular virus and malware scans.

This is generally good advice for anyone who uses online gambling services, as if you have a lot of money tied up in these services you could possibly lose a lot.

For malware you can head on over to Malwarebytes. Their free program is one of the best when it comes to removing a variety of software which can open the door for hackers and thieves.

When it comes to virus protection and management you can head over to Avast and grab their free virus scanner. Your computer, and your wallet, might end up thanking you.

Not Supported Countries

While PayPal attempts to cover as much as it can, in terms of locations, there are areas where it is not supported. This is usually because of the laws of the country, or sanctions placed against them.

The current list of restricted countries are as follows:

  • Belarus
  • Burma
  • Cote d'Ivoire
  • DRC
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Liberia
  • North Korea
  • Sierra Leone
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Western Balkans
  • Zimbabwe

These are subject to changes, based on shifting laws and political climate. For a complete record of countries which are currently supported by PayPal you can click here to see their official listings.

How does it Work / What do I need?

In general terms the user will need a bank account, though a credit card can also be useful.

The user can select one of three different levels of account: Personal, Premier and Business. As this website deals with personal accounts this is what we will focus on. Luckily this is free to use, with only small amounts taken from withdrawals and payments.

First the user must go to the website and create an account, entering their user account information, bank information and personal information. This is important because in order to access most of what it has to offer the user must verify their account. Once signed up and basic proof has been provided through email the user can opt to provide further proof through either bank or credit card. The way this is done is by having PayPal making two very small deposits or withdrawals to the user's credit card or bank. The user then gets some of the transaction information from this and enters it into the website.

If using the bank account method the company will then send an automated voice call for final proof. If the credit card method is used they will then pay back the small charges and the user will then be verified.

It is not strictly necessary to perform these last steps of verification. Users should still consider it, however, as it removes some of the account limitations.

Paypal and Gambling

In 2003 the service was the largest payment processor for online gambling. Concerned about their image, PayPal stopped all functions between themselves and gambling sites.

Seven years later, in 2010, they got back into the game, with some regulations. From then on they only allowed this in countries where gambling was legal, and only on websites which operated on sites located within legal countries.

This means that if your country does not have legal gambling then you cant use PayPal for it. Is also means you cannot use the service for websites registered in locations where gambling is illegal.

Where can I use PayPal to gamble?

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PayPal is a common tool to aid in the legal versions of online gambling, so many sites support it. Check out the list below for some supported websites and links to our reviews of those sites.

Stay safe, and good luck!