Blockchain to Disrupt Centuries-Old Lotteries, TrueFlip Leading Charge
For as long as they’ve been around, lottery games have been near-monopolized by the governments. Blockchain is about to change that.
TrueFlip, the first decentralized lottery platform of its kind, announces its upcoming token sale. Following a successful pre-ICO conducted in stealth mode, the developers aim to secure more funding for further improvement of the product and a bigger jackpot.
“Just throw Blockchain at it”
The distributed ledger technology - a.k.a. the Blockchain - is a hot topic for many industries right now. Today, it is well-understood that its transparency and trustless nature can be used to great effect in a wide variety of applications.
However, understanding this and being able to create actual platforms are two very different things. There is at least one industry, in particular, which has been struggling with turning the vision of a completely decentralized system into reality - the lottery games.
To date, there have been several attempts to create a Blockchain-based lottery platform, but none of those initiatives have beared fruit. Their demise was brought upon by insufficient transparency, overly ambitious plans backed by zero actual products, and - sometimes - scandals involving the leadership behind a project.
These problems aren’t inherent to the lottery games industry though - they are the sign of a young market which is still growing and learning from its mistakes. Sooner or later, there will come a team capable of pulling a finished, working product off. In fact, judging by its successful track record, TrueFlip might just do the trick.
Lottery games, unchanged for 600 years
Historical records show that the earliest lotteries, which worked almost exactly as they do now, took place in the 15th century, in the low countries. The cities of Ghent, Utrecht and Bruges held state lotteries to fund their own projects, like building town fortifications.
It’s been almost 600 years since then, and cities do not need walls anymore, but the point of lotteries remains the same - they’re a tool used by the government to raise money without increasing taxes.
This state monopoly means nothing good for the players. Governments regulate lotteries heavily, imposing many restrictions on the players. For example, one can’t participate in the majority of current state lotteries remotely - tickets are only sold in physical form and only on the territory of the hosting state.
Moreover, the current mainstream lotteries are absolutely intransparent. The organizers make the rules, print and sell tickets and draw the numbers - and the process largely happens behind-the-scenes. Whatever details the players are allowed to know, they learn from TV, which is a one-way medium with no room for feedback or interaction.
These lotteries may be completely unfair - but we’ll never be able to tell because we can’t access the details of how they are conducted.
Basically, they’re a gamble, and I’m not talking about the actual risk element present in the game itself. By buying a lottery ticket, you put your trust in the organizers not to trick you, and it’s far too easy for them to take advantage of that trust.
So can Blockchain actually help?
In theory, Blockchain has all that is needed in order to eliminate the crucial disadvantages of the current lottery games.
If we disregard all superficial details and take a look at the most basic level of interaction between lottery organizers and participants, it boils down to money changing hands.
The players buy their tickets, the organizers draw the winning numbers, some of the players get their prizes and the organizers reserve a share of the pot for themselves. All these transactions can be put on an open, publicly accessible ledger - which is the Blockchain - thus eliminating the trust factor from the equation.
If the history of every single penny involved in a lottery can be monitored by any user at any time, then there is no reason to doubt the fairness of the game. Moreover, the Blockchain can ensure the transparent and fair generation of winning numbers for the lottery by providing random seeds in the form of block hashes.
That’s not all, as the use of Blockchain-powered cryptocurrencies for ticket purchases and prize payouts offers a whole range of other advantages. These include cross-border micropayments, near-instant transactions and far less restrictive participation options for foreign players.
So with all these advantages, how come there is still not a working, popular, fair Blockchain-powered lottery on the market? Well, there have been attempts.
One of the earliest such platforms that Cointelegraph has covered was LottoShares. It’s not around anymore, and the reasons of its demise have been lost to history.
Kibo Platform is a more recent example. After a successful ICO in October last year, the project has been largely silent. Only recently, in May, have they announced the launch of a closed testnet version, which will only be accessible to 40 people at first, and up to 420 in total.
Doesn’t sound like an ideally transparent lottery platform, does it? It remains to be seen if Kibo will be able to meet their promises and deliver a working, openly accessible game in the future.
However, all this begs a question. If the self-evidently great idea of a decentralized lottery game has been around for years, then why did nobody still turn it into reality?
The reasons may be numerous, but I personally think that it boils down to greed - it’s the clash between the wish to create a truly decentralized, fair game and the desire to make money in the process.
There is always an incentive to omit something from the users. The developers leave room for opportunities to squeeze some extra money from the players, and whenever these details get discovered, the projects lose their audience.
For example, Kibo itself went under fire from the investors when they learned that the owners of the platform had kept around 75 percent of the ICO tokens for themselves.
This leads to a pretty obvious conclusion - if someone wants to build a successful platform whose key values are fairness and transparency, they need to actually keep to these ideals, even if that means losing some opportunities for profit.
Will we ever see a decentralized lottery come to life?
As a matter of fact, I haven’t been entirely honest with you so far. There is at least one Blockchain lottery which you can play right now - TrueFlip. It is a decentralized, Blockchain-powered online lottery, and it has been operating in a semi-stealth mode for a while now.
TrueFlip is a finished, working game - it works similarly to Powerball, with the draws taking place every day at around 8 PM GMT. It also boasts an audience of about 40,000 regular players, and it has just successfully conducted a pre-ICO fundraising campaign.
The development of the lottery begun in November 2016 and was conducted using the team’s own money. The development and testing of an MVP and the launch of the alpha version have all been done without any outside fundraising or significant attention from the media.
Out of all projects which have been launched in the field, this one seems to have the most traction at the moment - especially when one reconciles their big, real player base with the fact that there has been almost no media coverage of the project so far. Several referral programs, such as a two percent lifetime revenue share for referrers, have also been a factor in this success.
But TrueFlip is not without its flaws, either. It cannot, in all honesty, be called a decentralized platform at the moment. There are some elements of decentralization, like an open-source code for random number generation and payouts, and the use of cryptocurrencies for deposits and withdrawals.
However, many processes still take place behind-the-scenes, and the original team remains in full control of the platform’s inner workings.
That appears to be a conscious decision though: the developers claim that they’re fully aware of the intransparency of some of the elements of their game and that their roadmap includes continuous, gradual decentralization of the entire platform.
The project’s stated mission is to become the most popular and transparent Blockchain lottery out there and to ultimately transfer the control over the platform to the community. To reach these goals, TrueFlip plans to conduct a token crowdsale, starting on June 28.
During the campaign, 21 mln Ethereum-based tokens will be sold at a fixed price of 0.0005 Bitcoins per token. TrueFlip plans to raise 6,125 Bitcoins in total, 40 percent of which will go to the jackpot and the rest will be spent on further development of the platform, including three new games and enhanced transparency.
We’ll have to wait and see if this crowdsale will meet its targets. However, the fact that the project already has a working game and a loyal audience is a strong indicator of the possible success. Especially considering that some ICO campaigns recently have been able to hit their goals with nothing more than an idea of a product.
It will be very interesting to see which of the projects will finally be able to fill the niche of fair and transparent Blockchain-powered lotteries, and with TrueFlip we may have a strong contender.
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