GamCrowd, Blockchain and ICE. Report on what you missed.

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Last month the gambling industry gathered at the ExCel centre in London for ICE Totally Gaming event. This year, blockchain made an appearance as the industry heard how the technology could integrated in the gambling sector and the significant benefits it could bring.

Hosted by GamCrowd, which put out a report late last year on the potential of blockchain to revolutionise the gambling industry, a number of speakers presented about blockchain technology, describing the possible applications and looking at some specific use cases. Following the presentation a panels of experts discussed the technology and informed the audience of developments and significant points in the area. Chris North, co-founder and managing director of GamCrowd, introduced the session with a presentation on GamCrowd, which is promoting blockchain and other cutting-edge technologies such as AI and IoT for use in the gambling industry.

Following this, journalist Matthew Warner gave a very succinct summary of how blockchain works, its features, possible benefits and an idea of some of the use cases that can currently be found innovating the space. Detailing some of the key features of blockchain, including transparency, immutability and disintermediation; Warner went on to describe how these could be applied to the gambling industry. Some examples included enabling ‘provably fair’ gambling, in addition to facilitating authentication and validation services. Warner finished by noting use cases such as Augur’s blockchain prediction market and Gulden, which is looking to disintermediate bookmakers.

Dr Hans Lombardo spoke next about blockchain lottery developer Quanta. Lombardo discussed how the company aims to launch a global decentralised and autonomous blockchain lottery, with ticket sales offered where jurisdictionally permitted. He described the huge efficiency and payout benefits – at least 75% - that using blockchain technology would allow the company and its users to experience. Lombardo also echoed the key benefits that the blockchain technology brought to the company, including its security and automating abilities.

Co-founder and Head of Business Development at FirstBlood, Marco Cuesta then described how Firstblood is using the Ethereum blockchain to build an eSports platform that allows players to challenge each other and win rewards. Still under development, it will support popular online games such as League of Legends, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Cuesta noted how the new technology could benefit the global eSports betting market that currently did not enjoy the same opportunities that other betting markets had.

After the presentations, the speakers were joined on a panel by Adam Vaziri from Diacle, Patricia Lalanda Ordóñez from Loyra Abogados, and Eddy Travia from Coinsilium. The participants discussed the following questions, as well as queries from the crowd:

        - What the short and long term opportunities and disruption blockchain brings to the industry are.
        - How other industries are adapting legacy platforms to the new technology.
        - How disintermediation of the blockchain would affect bookmakers.
        - The effect blockchain could have on regulators.
        - What blockchain could do for KYC and AML compliance in gaming.

Over the duration of the panel, the speakers talked about the power blockchain has to create huge efficiency savings by automating processes, reducing settlement times and cutting out middle men. Vaziri in particular pointed out that savings of 80% in a number of areas would not be unlikely.

The group looked at how other industries are forming consortiums and investing in start-ups to incorporate blockchain into their businesses and how complying with regulation would be easier. The benefit of companies pooling resources to better realise the revolutionary benefits of blockchain technology was earmarked as being the reason for other sectors – such as banking and FinTech – developing so rapidly.

The effect of the technology for regulators and bookmakers was also examined, with the possibility of blockchain replacing them in the long term or, instead, enhancing their role in the short term. Opinion in the group was divided; some insisted that blockchain effectively was a regulator itself, whereas others saw it as enabling regulators to do their work more effectively. Similarly, the role of bookmarkers was brought up as being at threat from the disintermediation that blockchain heralds but it was thought that bookmakers might still have a role in providing odds and other services.

Other topics were also touched on but the general consensus was that the gambling industry was behind in taking on or investigating the use of blockchain compared to other markets, and that there was a need to step-up its involvement or risk falling behind and losing out on the huge benefits blockchain technology can bring.

If you would like to see any of the sessions from the show then please click here.