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On Jan. 6, the daily fantasy sports site will host the Bitcoin Bowl, awarding a total of four BTC to the winners. It is the first DFS event to award cryptocurrency in a regulated US market as a payout.
The Bitcoin Bowl consists of two daily fantasy football contests held during Wild-Card weekend of the NFL playoffs. Both contests begin Saturday at 4:35 p.m. Eastern, with four-game slates.
Bitcoin Bowl Free Play is a winner-take-all freeroll that pays out one BTC to the winner. It is a single-entry contest.
Bitcoin Bowl Tournament is a $3 multi-entry event. It pays out a total of three BTC to the top four places:
FanDuel’s CFO, Andy Giancamilli, issued the news on Tuesday via a press release.
FanDuel has always sought to deliver the most unique and rewarding experiences or prizes to our users.
In awarding Bitcoin, we’re recognizing that most of our users are early adopters of technology and have a significant interest in cryptocurrency. Our fans love the prizing aspect of playing on our site and we think this will be a reward that they truly appreciate.
As of the time of writing, BTC is valued at just under $15,000, so we’ll use that number.
For a freeroll, $15,000 is a pretty handsome top prize. There’s certainly no issue with FanDuel giving away the equivalent of fifteen grand. Close to 100,000 players have already registered for that contest as of Wednesday morning.
Things get a little more intriguing in the paid-entry contest, though.
The prize pool for the $3 contest is essentially $45,000, so FanDuel needs 15,000 entries to break even. It’s already getting there, with more than 10,000 registered as of Wednesday morning. That’s pretty remarkable with three full days of registration remaining.
The issue is that the contest is essentially uncapped. The prizes are set, but the rake is to be determined. Players can enter up to 150 times apiece, and some folks seem to think that 50,000 entries is a real possibility. FanDuel needs about 20,000 entries to break even across both Bitcoin Bowl events, including the freeroll. So the potential for rake is enormous.
Once the field crosses the break-even point, every subsequent entry is $3 in FanDuel’s bank account (assuming Bitcoin roughly holds its value). If the paid contest does reach 50,000 entries, FanDuel would generate more than $100,000 — almost 7 BTC — in rake. In fairness, that seems like an ambitious prediction, but anything north of 18,000 entries would still make it the highest-raked tournament in memory. (That’s other than a 2016 contest FanDuel ran with $5,100 in entry fees to “name a contest”: only $100 went back to participants.
The numbers could change, of course, depending on the actual value of BTC when the contests pay out. The all-time high point to date is just under $20,000.
Reactions to the Bitcoin Bowl are decidedly mixed so far. The mainstream DFS community seems to be excited about the chance to splash into cryptocurrency via their favorite pastime.
The announcement also generated some mainstream exposure, like a write-up in the Daily Mail and a tweet from Darren Rovell.
Sign Of The Times: FanDuel will experiment with offering Bitcoins as prizes starting with this week’s NFL playoffs.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 3, 2018
Some players, though, just consider the contest a money grab.
The @FanDuel Bitcoin RakeBowl is already 1/2 of the way to being "full"
This may be the highest rake % contest ever created in DFS
— Brit Devine (@brit_devine) January 3, 2018
— John Proctor (@JohnProctorDFS) January 3, 2018
“Fraud” is probably taking it a bit far, but it is certainly a sly effort to generate revenue. There’s nothing in the contest that appears to violate any of the 18 state DFS laws on the books on first glance. FanDuel has definitely created some buzz and excitement with the contest. If this one is a success, look for more like it.
The announcement also spawned a few curious questions from users regarding BTC transactions. FanDuel has so far not indicated that it plans to allow BTC for deposits and withdrawals.