The owner of bitcoin betting site Just-Dice, a rival to SatoshiDice, had a severe moment of panic a few days ago when a user taking advantage of a human error caused him to lose 1,300 bitcoins (around $116,090 at the time of writing).
Known only as 'dooglus', the owner revealed on the Bitcoin Talk forum that he had made something of a colossal mistake. What happened was this: a player won a load of bitcoins on the site and asked to withdraw them, dooglus paid out, but forgot to remove the balance from the user's Just-Dice account. The user then gambled - and lost - the bitcoins that were left in his account and dooglus covered the loss out of his own pocket.
When he realised his mistake, dooglus contacted the user, who claimed he had left his laptop in a café and that someone else logged onto his Just-Dice account and gambled the money.
I'll leave it up to you to decide whether you believe that or not.
What has been most interesting about this whole mishap is the support given to dooglus by the community of Just-Dice users, with some pledging to donate all their future winnings to dooglus to get him back in the black.
"The response from the Just-Dice community was so supportive. It was because of the community support and encouragement that I was able to turn this into a non-event. The community, at all times, seemed to have my best interests at heart and apart from a few 'trolls', the response was heartening," dooglus told CoinDesk.
The community helped him to realise that the 1,300 BTC the user lost should be thought of as fake bitcoins. When the user lost, those invested in the site or 'bankroll' thought they had gained 1,300 BTC, however, these coins were fake, so there was actually no gain to be made. With this in mind, dooglus simply rolled back the user's bets that were made with the 1,300 'fake' BTC and reclaimed the bitcoins that he paid out of his own pocket.
He said he feels he handled the incident poorly, but, regardless of this, very few people have since decided to leave the site.
"Those who did leave voiced concerns regarding future challenges and my ability to deal with them. These concerns are being taken very seriously as I work to improve my abilities to better 'manage' the site. Overall, the site is still running with a high investment number, which points to continued faith in the idea of Just-Dice."
Dooglus said the incident has taught him to automate as much as possible and take time when making decisions, considering carefully any actions that may affect the site.
The rise of Just-Dice
Just-Dice has become phenomenally popular since it went live on 20th June, with over 429,600 BTC ($38.4 million) being wagered in around 31 million bets.
"To be honest, the huge surge took us by surprise. I think it is an innovative idea that hit the market at just the right time. People were tired of waiting for other sites to make promised improvements and changes, and were keen for something new," explained dooglus.
He said he created Just-Dice because he wanted to see a community-type site that allows people to be equal on many fronts, unlike other gambling sites. He had been playing around with the idea for over a year until he decided the time was right to get it out there.
Dooglus believes Just-Dice is different in many ways to other bitcoin betting sites, for example, it is off the block chain, gives instant results and large maximum profit per bet with a small house edge. It also offers the opportunity to invest instead of/as well as gamble.
"People seem to enjoy the chat and camaraderie as well, and can watch others betting and cheer for or against the 'whales'."
The real-time nature of the site makes it pretty darn addictive, you can see how much people are betting and how much they win or lose. The majority of users are just placing small bets here and there, but the whales do come along now and then to really steal the show. So far, the largest amount lost on one bet was a whopping 640 BTC and the biggest win was 303 BTC.
When a new user visits the site for the first time, an account is automatically created. If that person has cookies enabled, they'll automatically be logged in each time they visit from the same computer and browser. If they want to log on using a different browser or computer, they can use a secret link, but this needs to be kept safe as it can be used to access their account balance.
This is similar to the system used by Instawallet, which is still in something of a pickle after hackers gained access to all of its users' hidden urls. Dooglus decided to use this system to make it easy for new users to test out the site, but recommends regular users take extra precautions.
"We offer username/password sign ups and would recommend that anyone depositing take advantage of this. We also offer two-factor authentication via the Google Authenticator app for your smart phone," he explained.
A few days ago, the owner of Satoshi Dice announced the bitcoin betting site had been sold for 126,315 BTC (around $11.5 million). It's not yet known who the buyer is, but dooglus speculates they could be intending to try to compete directly with Just-Dice by adding similar features and options - off-block chain betting, for instance.
Dooglus said individuals asking to buy part of his site have approached him, but no individual or company has made a formal offer to acquire it. "I've made it clear that I am not interested at this time," he explained.
So, what next for Just-Dice? Dooglus said a site redesign is currently in progress and he is working through a long list of suggestions from within the Just-Dice community.
There are a number of things he and his colleague 'Deb' want to change about the site, but their first and prevailing motivations are keeping users happy and keeping the community spirit alive.
What do you make of Just-Dice? Let us know in the comments below.
Image credit: Flickr