Published: 8 December, 2022

Community-driven decentralised sports betting CMO Thawfeek Ameen talks Trafficology through the ins and outs of the up-and-coming sports betting exchange

Sports betting is enjoying a rapid rise across the likes of Europe, Asia and North America in particular, but one aspect of the pastime that is not so commonplace is blockchain.
Sports betting exchange (BSGG) is looking to buck the trend in this regard. The community-driven decentralised sports betting exchange, built on the Polygon blockchain, enables secure and anonymous user participation, with locked contracts and reduced fees. CMO Thawfeek Ameen told Trafficology how the platform was launched, its focus areas and its plans for the future.

Can you provide a brief introduction to Betswap?

My business partner and I decided to try and create something very unique to stand out, and we wanted to try and solve the problem of permissionless. That’s the biggest problem the betting industry is facing. For example, today, if you want to withdraw from anybody, it’s going to take a lot of time. You need to send your withdrawal request and they will process it, and they may even refuse or reject it. This is the biggest problem in the unregulated market. I’m not talking about the regulated markets like the UK or US, the way the regulator comes and steps in and takes the necessary actions. I’m talking about a lot of the Asian unregulated markets; they are not good paymasters, they don’t pay at all if you make huge winnings, immediately they will ban you. And then someone will make a comment in the forum like ‘these guys are a scam’. That was the ultimate goal; to solve the problem of permissionless withdrawal and permissionless trustless betting. Based on that we started to research how do we build the betting exchange on the blockchain. So we started to go for fundraising. Initially, we did our own personal funds like bootstrapping, and then we got our friends and family coming and putting in a few million, Then in total we raised $21m from a couple of VCs from the US and a firm called Wonderland.Once we got the funding, we started to hire a good team. For example, we have ex-Betfair, ex-Paddy Power guys working for us, we also have ex-BetConstruct working for us – so we put up a good team.
And also from the blockchain side, we hired a couple of good guys who are ex-Ethereum Foundation. We put up a good blockchain team and then we started to build this decentralised betting exchange, where you can place a bet without permission and your bet gets matched; and in the same way you can withdraw permissionless, as long as you win.

How have operations been going?

It took us almost a year to build the technology. There were a lot of roadblocks. Normally a sports betting industry is supposed to be high-transaction, so usually in a very important game like Real Madrid versus Chelsea for example, you will see millions of transactions coming in.
Blockchain does not have that capacity, so it took us some time to build the architecture. We finally launched the beta on 5 September. I was very surprised at how well it did. It’s still in beta, we didn’t do any marketing at all. So I was quite happy to see that people are coming in, testing and giving us feedback. The community is giving suggestions that will engage – do this, do that – we love it. We’re giving the community freedom of choice on whichever bet they want: they can match any bet they want.

Which sports have been most popular with Betswap customers so far?

In the beta, we saw football, NFL and esports. Esports especially with the League of Legends World event happening right now. With esports, I think the crypto audience is already the esports audience, because they already know what crypto is.
The challenges we face right now are the two types of audience; one audience who use crypto already, and who knows how to bet on sport. They are mostly betting on esports and soccer. For other sports like cricket, they’re mostly stuck to the traditional sports betting format where you have to send the money to the bookie.The problem is to educate the user on how to use the metamask wallet, in which we release the tutorial videos, and we also try to integrate a third-party integration. So you can just connect your metamask wallet with your email ID – just by connecting your Gmail or Facebook.
We are also trying to improve our user journey experience for people who do not have experience with crypto. But once people understand the logistics, they are completely loyal, they don’t want to go back to the traditional stuff. Once they understand this, having the freedom of money withdrawal anytime they want, without any permission, they are sticking with us, that’s it. And also the beauty is they can create their own odds, it’s an exchange.

What are Betswap’s future plans?

Right now we have developed a sports betting exchange. But we are also trying to bring on casino games, all the stuff in the Web3 space. When I say casino games, you know there are big players like Evolution, we are trying to create a separate smart contract where people can use the background. Currently, what happens is, it’s a casino house versus the players, so we wanted to make sure the house can also be the players. They can contribute their funds into the background pool and they can share it if the house is winning.
We have roadmaps to integrate casino games and some free-to-play games like tournaments, there are many things coming up. Down the line we have a lot of other products coming in. We will be the first in the whole globe to integrate play to earn games, NFT games. We recently partnered with Oly Sports, which has NFT horseracing. It provides, breeds and races the horse. It has integrated with us and it is going live soon.
That’s something which is unique, nobody has done it. Technically the whole horse is owned by somebody, and then people can bet on it, which horse will win etc. We are also trying to integrate the play-to-earn NFT games into it, so if somebody wants to bet on it, they can integrate and bet on it. You cannot ignore that play to earn games are moving fast.

“Currently what happens is, it’s a casino house versus the players, so we wanted to make sure the house can also be the players”