How does the average digital currency fan participate in the world's greatest football tournament? How about placing an anonymous bitcoin wager on World Cup results?
One unique betting platform for the World Cup is Bitkup. The platform relies on a public wallet for its prize money pool, which it calls the Bitpot. As a result, anyone can observe the transactions as the pot accumulates prize money.
Bitkup's organisers are Brazilian Gustavo Araujo and Oriol Franquesa of Spain, who say they are independent developers who want to raise mainstream awareness of bitcoin using the World Cup as a backdrop.
"We created Bitkup [...] for people that just want to have fun and try their luck with predictions for the World Cup," Araujo said.
Bitkup players place their bets on the outcome of World Cup matches and receive points in return. The players who accumulate the most points win various prizes.
Bitkup players are ranked in two 'leagues'. There's a Pro League, which costs 0.05 BTC to enter. Once in, players can bet on an unlimited number of matches.
The top-scoring Pro League player will win half of the accumulated pot, which currently stands at 2.14 BTC, while the first runner-up gets 15% of the pot, the next best player gets 13% and so on until the top 20 players are rewarded. Bitkup takes 0.01 BTC from the initial entry fee.
Bitkup isn't all about gambling for cryptocurrency, however. Players can also take part in the Free League, which lets folks place a bet gratis. The 20 highest-scoring Free League players also get prizes, although Bitkup isn't saying what they are yet. The cup's organisers assure players that the prizes will involve "cryptocurrency and football".
Ultimately, Pro League players still have to trust Bitkup to transfer the winnings from the pot. When asked about this, the organisers point to their terms and conditions and transparency policy, saying:
"We are definitely not a fraud, let alone a fake, we have spent much time working on this, our goal being to create something different for the World Cup."
What if you could bet on the World Cup for free and still win some bitcoin? What about a 100 BTC prize pot? That's what Cloudbet is offering with its World Cup promotion, which is free to enter.
Winning the 100 BTC won't be easy, though, with the odds being distinctly unfavourable. The Cloudbet promotion requires the winner to select the winner and runner-up of each group, as well as the winners of all subsequent rounds of the competition.
As a refresher, World Cup 2014 has eight groups, with four teams each and five rounds after the group stages (including the match for third place). As Dennis Laudrup, Cloudbet's marketing manager notes:
"We realise people will need a bit of luck to pick all 31 results correctly, but we're confident that 100 bitcoins is enough motivation for folks to give it their best shot."
Cloudbet's contest closes on 12th June at 12pm (GMT).
Another bitcoin betting platform running a World Cup promo is Nitrogen Sports, which is offering 20 BTC to players who complete a series of challenges.
Players must use social media to share winning betslips of World Cup matches in various configurations. Those with the most valid social media shares get the 20-coin pot. Final bets for this contest must be placed before the start of the World Cup final on 13th July.
Then there's BetVIP, which is taking wagers on match results, as well as predictions for the winner and the top scorer. This is an all-purpose betting platform that offers bets across a number of other major tournaments and sports as well, ranging from NBA basketball to NFL football.
If trusting centralised betting platforms sets the alarm bells ringing, then why not try a decentralised, peer-to-peer option?
To do so, you need a Counterwallet, which is an account, of sorts, used to settle transactions on Counterparty, a peer-to-peer marketplace. Then, with Counterwallet in hand, go to Xbet.io to browse available bets.
The World Cup features prominently, but bets on the NBA finals and various football leagues are also available.
Grab the address line of the bet you want to make and punch it into your Counterwallet where you'll be able to make the bet. Unusually, you'll be betting against another user, not the house, so funds are held in escrow until the bet is over.
Other bitcoin businesses
If you don't need to enhance the excitement of a World Cup match with wager-induced adrenaline, there are other ways to conjoin your interests in football and cryptocurrency.
At Bspend, for example, you can order a variety of national football jerseys and pay with bitcoin. However, fans should note, these aren't the official World Cup jerseys the teams will be sporting on the pitches of Brazil.
If you're lucky enough to be part of the World Cup carnival at one of the host cities, Sao Paulo, then be sure to hit up Mercado Bitcoin's new ATM, which has been installed in a bar in the financial district. It's a one-way Lamassu unit, however, meaning you can only use it to increase your bitcoin holdings.
World Cup logo image via FIFA