A cryptocurrency founded by a 29-year-old Peking University grad and Jack Ma protégé has emerged at the centre of a decentralized online gaming movement which is seeing thousands of users gamble tens of millions of dollars per day.
TRON, a blockchain founded by Justin Sun, facilitates nearly instant and ultra-low fee transactions of TRX, a cryptocurrency with a market capitalization of more than $1.2 billion.
And over the past few months, online casino has become its central use case, with numerous operators offering TRON-based gaming products.
These casinos are fully decentralized and built upon the TRON blockchain, rather than traditional servers. Wagers are processed automatically by smart contracts and cannot be modified by either the operator or the user. Each individual transaction can be verified on the TRON blockchain, ensuring games are provably fair.
Strong communities have built up around the most successful of these casinos, not least because many reward players with tokens depending on the volumes they wager. These tokens can then be ‘frozen’, entitling the player to a share of the casino’s profits each day in the form of a dividend.
According to analysis from bestTRONcasino.com earlier this year, more than $14 million worth of TRX is gambled every day, with the most successful TRON casino, WINk (formerly TRONBet), reporting in excess of 2,000 daily users.
More established, traditional online casinos are also looking to capitalise on TRON’s popularity by adding TRX as a payment method alongside existing currencies.
“The majority of our customers continue to play with Bitcoin, but TRX introduces some interesting advantages for those who wish to try something different,” Tim Heath, CEO of the Coingaming Group, which recently added TRX as a payment option to its Bitcasino.io and Sportsbet.io brands, told AGB.
Unlike decentralized casinos such as WINk, Bitcasino.io and Sportsbet.io are not built upon the TRON blockchain and accept a range of cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies, including Bitcoin and euros. But Heath said that adding TRON payments nonetheless confers several advantages.
“We are able to offer TRX transactions with zero fees, which means the minimum deposit for players is just 100 TRX - less than $2 at current prices. This is one of the lowest entry points in online gaming, so it opens our products to a whole new audience.
“TRON transactions are also lightning fast, so there is very little waiting around for deposits or withdrawals to clear. The player is in complete control of their funds,” Heath said.
Realising blockchain’s promise?
TRON appears to be succeeding where other cryptocurrencies have failed. While accurate wagering or GGR figures are not available, Bitcoin remains far and away the most gambled cryptocurrency.
But in the world of decentralized gaming, where in 2017 a number of projects raised tens of millions of dollars via initial coin offerings (ICOs) to build a new breed of online casino, TRON stands well above the competition from Ethereum-based and EOS-based operations.
For TRON’s users, the growth of TRX casinos displays a real-world use case where the cryptocurrency brings tangible benefits - faster payment transactions, lower fees, provably fair gaming - than alternatives.
“The gaming community has a central role in the growth of TRON because it is displaying to the world why this technology is relevant,” Justin Sun recently told blockchain gaming affiliate CryptoGamblingNews.com.
“Many people were not happy with how traditional online casinos operate. They want provably fair gaming, lightning fast transactions and zero fees. The TRON blockchain is scalable in a way other blockchains which have attempted to offer gaming products of this nature simply are not. That is why we see users flocking to it.”
Heath at the Coingaming Group agreed. He said TRON was a perfect match for the group’s ‘fun, fast and fair’ ethos, and that the operator had even incorporated native TRON play - as opposed to in-game currency conversion - with some of its most popular games providers, including OneTouch, Evolution Gaming, GameArt and Kalamba.
The age of TRON?
While many blockchain-based operators have struggled with onboarding users, one of the main catalysts for TRON’s success as a gaming currency has been that it offers a variant of the much-fabled single wallet solution.
Users hold their TRX in a wallet that can be installed as a simple extension to their web browser; from here, they can access and instantly play at hundreds of TRON casinos without the need to register or deposit, with bets placed directly from their wallet.
The concern for TRON evangelists will be that regulators eventually catch up with them; many of these decentralized casinos offer few KYC or AML checks, and often operate completely outside regulatory frameworks.
This will likely become an issue if TRON continues to build upon its success and enter wider, mainstream usage.
Much may rest upon Sun himself. The youngest graduate of Jack Ma’s Hupan University business school, Sun has been central to the cryptocurrency’s growth since he founded the TRON Foundation in 2017.
A fixture on social media with more than two million Twitter followers, he has a knack for getting himself in the headlines.
Earlier this year he paid $4.6 million in a charity auction for a lunch with Warren Buffet, a famous cryptocurrency skeptic; and when PayPal cut off payment services to PornHub this month, Sun was quick to announce TRX payments had been added.
But beyond such stunts, he has proved an adept dealmaker; Samsung recently added TRON support to its decentralized app store.
If Sun can successfully roll TRON out to an even larger audience, the wider online gambling industry will be forced to take note.
Asia Gaming Brief is a news and intelligence service providing up to date market information for worldwide executives on relevant gaming issues in Asia.
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