/ Analysis

FunFair Review

Make Gambling Fun (and Fair) Again

Estimated time to read: 6 minutes

Introduction

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The online gambling market is predicted to be worth $60 billion by 2020, and FunFair is looking to propel that figure to further heights. With a strong community backing, an already-accessible showcase of their games, and advisors and team members already having made a mark in the gaming industry, FunFair is set to hit the ground running in 2018.

On top of this, FunFair have focused on a market issue congruent with the average crypto investor. Whatever your opinion on the health and cultural ramifications of gambling, early cryptocurrency adopters are already in a mindset of openly gambling their assets; Funfair have just taken it a step further and invited users into a digital casino.

Use Case

The problem with traditional online casinos, and what deteriorates their public perception, is that users are reluctant to trust these services—and it’s little surprise. With reports of online gambling services refusing to release users’ winnings and manipulating the back-end of sites to affect the probability of certain users winning, an ordinary person would feel safer walking to a pub and throwing coins into a slot machine than doing the same online. And even without these controversies, users are often left blindly hoping that they are being given real-casino odds in any game they play. Altogether, this means that legitimate casinos have to spend years building community trust—an expensive and time consuming process.

FunFair overcomes the problems of traditional gambling institutions by placing gambling on the blockchain and licensing out their technology. The FunFair tokens will be used as:

  • The sole means of playing FunFair casino games.
  • Payment for game creators.
  • The method of charging fees before being destroyed.
  • A currency for in-app purchases.

This means that anyone playing on a site that uses FunFair tokens has a certainty of quality and fairness, and the algorithms used will always be available for public scrutiny. Further, users won’t have the nerve-wracking experience of connecting their credit cards to shady websites, as tokens can be bet as soon as their wallet is connected to the server. While it’s difficult to imagine top-tier gambling sites adopting FunFair technology in the near future, Jez San (CEO) has commented that there will be a gradual process of implementation, where “initially (FunFair is) aiming at medium sized casinos... that have crypto experience and know how to do marketing and support”. These indie casinos will be able to use the Funfigutator tool to build and customise their platform, free of charge.

There is still the question of market volatility when betting FunFair tokens. While price fluctuations in a single gaming session like won’t be significant enough to deter players, the condition of the market come playtime might influence the volume of active players. In an uptrending market, users theoretically could enjoy betting tokens they bought for pennies against tokens now worth dollars, however a bearish market might see users reluctant to wager on a slowly depreciating asset—or even use FunFair as a store of value. This is by no means a problem unique to FunFair, and it may be the case that players already comfortable with betting cryptocurrencies are beyond being deterred by market forces.

While it remains to be seen if issues of market volatility can be overcome, or if large-scale casinos would be willing to switch over to blockchain, a successful FunFair project will at the very least allow micro-casinos to be set up rapidly and with ease. In this regard, FunFair is building a gaming-blockchain community that should exist irrespective of the future crypto-market conditions.

Our rating: ★★★★☆

Technology

The technology underpinning FunFair is not wholly unique or likely to have its developers winning awards and accolades, but it is more than sufficient for the job and seems far and beyond above what competitors are producing.

FunFair is an ERC-20 token which takes advantage of the intrinsic characteristics of the Ethereum blockchain to deliver a “completely serverless and decentralised” gambling platform. However, it’s at this point that other blockchain gambling outlets fail, as users are subject to exorbitant fees and wait times as each transaction is processed on the congested Ethereum blockchain.

FunFair resolved this by constructing their own state channel (referred to as the ‘Fate Channel’) which is built atop the Ethereum blockchain. This operates somewhat separately from the main blockchain, so that during each gambling session all transactions are recorded as “counter-signings of updated ‘claims’ on an escrowed amount of funds”.

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Source: FunFair whitepaper, p. 9:

At the end of the session, a smart contract releases the funds and connects back to the main blockchain. In a layman’s terms, you are not paying network fees and waiting for a block to be mined every time you pull a slot machine or double-down in blackjack, as this is all done on a custom sidechain.

Further, FunFair games are accessible and primed for mass adoption. The entire Funfair platform is built in HTML5, meaning all games are accessible from all mobile and desktop browsers, unlike Flash-built casinos which require specific plugins to be downloaded to facilitate gameplay. Again, this is another small edge elevating FunFair above its competition.

The technology enables Funfair to achieve it’s 4 core objects:

  • Provably fair
  • Decentralised
  • Fast
  • Flexible

Our rating: ★★★★☆

Team

The founding team behind Funfair have a long history building virtual gaming platforms together, which is undeniably positive for the long-term prospects of the company. The visionaries behind Funfair are Jef Sanz and Jeremy Longley who started the online poker room success ‘PKR’ together in 2005. Sanz has been recognised as a pioneer in the gaming industry, notably receiving an OBE for his contributions since the 70s.

The Funfair community update stated that they will be expanding the current team from 30 to approximately 50 people by Q1 2018. A notable hire from this cohort is Stefan Kovanch who headed marketing for PokerStars, which was acquired for $4.9 billion in 2014. Kovanch will put his expertise to use as a brand/marketing consultant and may be a potential channel to engage a strategic partnership down the line with his former employer.

This significant bolster to talent-pool puts them in a prime position to execute their product roadmap which entails:

  • Releasing their first Funfair blockchain casino in Q1 (including a new lobby, updated fate channels, new gaming content and new user interface)
  • Focusing on onboarding strategic casino and technology partners in Q2 to expand/explore commercial opportunities.

Our rating: ★★★★☆

Conclusion

FunFair is one of those rare products that got it right from the beginning. They entered their ICO with a showcase of their platform, they have a clear roadmap and token use-case, and they have accrued talented developers with experience in gaming and gambling. While they're currently lacking major partnerships to parade on their social media, investors should be comforted to see this a highlighted item for Q2 of their roadmap.

It's still unclear if FunFair will ever be able to tackle the large-scale casino market, however their Fate Channel technology will at the very least make them an attractive option for local and medium-sized online casino outlets.

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