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betting real money in games?


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#1 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 12:29 AM

I found a ad on this site to this site: https://developers.betable.com/?utm_source=Ads&utm_medium=728x90&utm_campaign=Gamedevnet_051812_PvP

And they take care of the legal issues so we can add betting to our games.
They don't have any contact info yet so I can't ask them any questions.

But this is something I've always been interested in even as a gamer if there's a competition for money in a game it catches my entire attention.
And wouldn't it just be AWESOME if someone created a really good game like some kind of MOBA game for example where you can bet money on if you think you will win... sort of like a pokersite.. play $5 matches or $50 dollar matches.. whatever is your fancy.

But I am sure there's a good reason no one has done this so far..
And the reason I think for that is that there's no way for us to prevent hacking in games..
I wonder how pokersites prevent it tho... I mean I've heard about the rare occurance that someone has hacked into the feed of what cards are coming out of the deck but it really is a rare occurance and I think by now that security issue has been sealed.

So...
What do you think?

Sponsor:

#2 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 27585

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 03:05 AM

One of their staff is registered here, and also posts on altdevblogaday, if you want to contact them directly.

I've worked in the gambling industry before, long enough to know the legal issues are large and complex, especially when it comes to the online space... it seems like a great deal to be able to outsource the legal risks onto a 3rd party like this -- almost too good to be true.

Regarding cheating + real-money (providing an incentive to cheat), there's been plenty of games that allow you to convert in-game currencies back into real-money, so it has been done before. Second-Life was rife with gambling services before the FBI advised them to crack down on it, and other MMO's have similar currency-conversion mechanisms (legal or not). I even remember a shooter game that was centred around betting, where you had to pay real-money to buy bullets in order to compete.

Edited by Hodgman, 02 June 2012 - 03:07 AM.


#3 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4509

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 03:32 AM

You prevent "hacking" (i.e. cheating) by simply not sending the client any data that it needs not know. That's as good as you can get, because there's no way you can stop someone from doing anything they want with anything that's on a computer they have physical control over.

For a poker game, this is easy, you're sent just your own cards and nothing else, until the end. You don't need to see anything else all that time, so it works perfectly well.

For some other games, it may be much more difficult. For example, in a shooter type of game, you should not be sent any data about someone standing behind a wall, so making the wall texture transparent or some more sophisticated cheat won't be applicable. Unluckily, it makes implementing "nice" gameplay for legitimate players much harder too, and it is still not foolproof. A client might still need some information that normally isn't shown to the user for other reasons, and you cannot be sure a modified client won't cache legitimately received data which it should discard, etc etc.
OnLive is your best guess for a kind-of solution -- you only send input and only get to see a kind of "video stream". Of course you still can't prevent anyone from e.g. using a contrast enhancing image processing filter, or a motion detection filter for an unfair advantage, unless you control the box (which companies like Sony fail to do, so you have no reason to believe you can do it).

The much bigger concern is what happens when a minor plays your real money betting game. In some countries, you may go to prison for 2-5 years for this (depending on the judge's mood, whether or not they are inclined to think you did enough to prevent it from happening). You are not unlikely to get anything from angry soccer moms in your front yard to death threats from religious zealots too (gambling is the devil, remember).

And lastly what happens if someone actually manages to "win" 4-5 million with some exploit? This is something that is not unlikely to happen. Software is only as perfect as the people implementing it, and as perfect as the underlying components. In other words, not at all.
If someone exploits you for a few millions, you have to decide whether to pay them (who will yank out that money, though?) or refuse. You first have to figure out whether it's an exploit at all, too. And you had better be 101% sure about it. After all, it might be a legitimate winner, even if the chances are absurdly low. Take the lottery as an example. Winning the lottery (we're talking of the "big win", not some pennies) is practically impossible. However, it obviously does happen. Still, since it is kind of impossible to win, you should be inclined to believe that if someone wins, they must be cheaters. Now what would happen if it was publicly known that a lottery company refused to pay, only a single time in history? Nobody would ever play again.
In other words, if it is possible to win real money, you must be prepared to yank out real money in the worst case.

#4 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 03:49 AM

The much bigger concern is what happens when a minor plays your real money betting game. In some countries, you may go to prison for 2-5 years for this (depending on the judge's mood, whether or not they are inclined to think you did enough to prevent it from happening). You are not unlikely to get anything from angry soccer moms in your front yard to death threats from religious zealots too (gambling is the devil, remember).


Good point, And money laundry too.
Maybe that betable site would take care of screening players that want to start betting?
Anyone that would want to start playing for money would have to turn on real money option on their account.. And only way to do that is by sending in all that documents about proof of residence, credit card info and all that pain the ass stuff hehe.

And lastly what happens if someone actually manages to "win" 4-5 million with some exploit? This is something that is not unlikely to happen. Software is only as perfect as the people implementing it, and as perfect as the underlying components. In other words, not at all.
If someone exploits you for a few millions, you have to decide whether to pay them (who will yank out that money, though?) or refuse. You first have to figure out whether it's an exploit at all, too. And you had better be 101% sure about it. After all, it might be a legitimate winner, even if the chances are absurdly low. Take the lottery as an example. Winning the lottery (we're talking of the "big win", not some pennies) is practically impossible. However, it obviously does happen. Still, since it is kind of impossible to win, you should be inclined to believe that if someone wins, they must be cheaters. Now what would happen if it was publicly known that a lottery company refused to pay, only a single time in history? Nobody would ever play again.
In other words, if it is possible to win real money, you must be prepared to yank out real money in the worst case.


That's also true..
It would be safest if you don't let them win money from you but from the other players they play against.
Sure you could hold a tournament with a fixed price every now and then as well.

I mean, If it's possible to implement betting into games... I don't see why most games don't do it?
It's pretty much free money for you if you count away the legal issues.
players bet against each other not against you.. so you don't got anything to lose.. but you still take a house cut for letting them bet against each other.

#5 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4509

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 04:50 AM

players bet against each other not against you.. so you don't got anything to lose.. but you still take a house cut for letting them bet against each other.

That's exactly what the lottery does. They let, say, 50 million people bet against each other to guess the right numbers. You take money, say a dollar, from everybody placing a "bet" and you promise to give a prize (which is a share of the paid money), say 20 million, to the winner (if there is one). Plus, maybe another 20 million in small wins, to keep the crowd interested. Then some millions into advertizing, and a share to the dealers who sell your tickets, plus the money to actually print them and you keep the rest.

The jackpot isn't won every time, so all is fine. Massive profit for you.

And now imagine someone wins the jackpot every single time. Not only does nobody else win (not a problem with the lottery, but if people lose every time in a game where it seems possible to win, they soon realize!), but you also lose money.

Edited by samoth, 02 June 2012 - 04:51 AM.


#6 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 05:11 AM

players bet against each other not against you.. so you don't got anything to lose.. but you still take a house cut for letting them bet against each other.

That's exactly what the lottery does. They let, say, 50 million people bet against each other to guess the right numbers. You take money, say a dollar, from everybody placing a "bet" and you promise to give a prize (which is a share of the paid money), say 20 million, to the winner (if there is one). Plus, maybe another 20 million in small wins, to keep the crowd interested. Then some millions into advertizing, and a share to the dealers who sell your tickets, plus the money to actually print them and you keep the rest.

The jackpot isn't won every time, so all is fine. Massive profit for you.

And now imagine someone wins the jackpot every single time. Not only does nobody else win (not a problem with the lottery, but if people lose every time in a game where it seems possible to win, they soon realize!), but you also lose money.


It's not the same thing.
We will always be able to pay them the money they win because we take it from the other player.
They have to deposit the money into the game before they can place the bets.

They don't have a chance to win any money from us.. so we're always safe from what you're talking about.

#7 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8642

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 09:00 AM

But this is something I've always been interested in even as a gamer if there's a competition for money in a game it catches my entire attention.
And wouldn't it just be AWESOME if someone created a really good game like some kind of MOBA game for example where you can bet money on if you think you will win... sort of like a pokersite.. play $5 matches or $50 dollar matches.. whatever is your fancy.

But I am sure there's a good reason no one has done this so far..
And the reason I think for that is that there's no way for us to prevent hacking in games..
I wonder how pokersites prevent it tho...


This is not a game design question, so I'm moving it out of Game Design. The question is also not about legality, it's about how hacking is prevented. Looking for the right forum to put it in...
-- Tom Sloper
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#8 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 09:13 AM


But this is something I've always been interested in even as a gamer if there's a competition for money in a game it catches my entire attention.
And wouldn't it just be AWESOME if someone created a really good game like some kind of MOBA game for example where you can bet money on if you think you will win... sort of like a pokersite.. play $5 matches or $50 dollar matches.. whatever is your fancy.

But I am sure there's a good reason no one has done this so far..
And the reason I think for that is that there's no way for us to prevent hacking in games..
I wonder how pokersites prevent it tho...


This is not a game design question, so I'm moving it out of Game Design. The question is also not about legality, it's about how hacking is prevented. Looking for the right forum to put it in...


You are wrong, it's about implementing betting into games.. that is a game design issue.
It's about all issues that come with adding real money betting into games including the legal issues.

#9 Álvaro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 11861

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 07:48 PM

You are wrong, it's about implementing betting into games.. that is a game design issue.
It's about all issues that come with adding real money betting into games including the legal issues.

What I don't get is why it was moved to General Programming. This has precisely nothing to do with programming. It should definitely go back to Game Design.

#10 Storyyeller   Members   -  Reputation: 212

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 12:44 AM

It looks to me like this should be in Buisness and Law. The discussion has just been about the legal issues.
I trust exceptions about as far as I can throw them.

#11 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 11:03 AM


You are wrong, it's about implementing betting into games.. that is a game design issue.
It's about all issues that come with adding real money betting into games including the legal issues.

What I don't get is why it was moved to General Programming. This has precisely nothing to do with programming. It should definitely go back to Game Design.


Yep, It would be great if a mod could move it back to where it belongs..
It had a nice discussion going on until he moved it and all discussion died because it's in wrong forum now.

#12 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4509

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 11:06 AM

It's not the same thing.
We will always be able to pay them the money they win because we take it from the other player.
They have to deposit the money into the game before they can place the bets.

They don't have a chance to win any money from us.. so we're always safe from what you're talking about.

I admire your bravity, but you still have to be extremely careful or you may find out to be wrong with your assumption.

In the easiest case, each game is paid out at once.
Players A, B, and C each put $50 onto "the table". The prize is $100 ($150 minus $50 for the house). Player A wins and B cheats and wins. Both A and B demand you give them $100. What now?

In the regular case, wins are not paid out at once, but go into the customers "account", from which he can eventually "withdraw", i.e. convert your virtual dollars (or credits, points, whatever you call them) to real dollars on the client's real bank account.

Players A, B, and C play 1000 games. Assume chances are exactly the same, everyone wins 333 times (one would have to win 334 times, but forget that...). Each player thus paid 50,000 and won 33,300. You will keep 50,000 profit from these 150,000 and pay the winers from the money tou seized earlier. Easy.
Now unluckily, player A knows a database exploit, so his account gets balanced every time anyone wins. At the end of the week, B and C ask you to pay out 33,000 each, and A asks for 100,000. That's minus 16,000 for you. What now?

If that's already scary, think about a player gaining root access to your server and creating 5,000 or 10,000 accounts with a few thousand dollars worth of credit in each account. He then withdraws unsuspicious amounts from each. You'll need weeks (or months) to track this back, until then the money will have disappeared in some country where nobody will be able to tell you who the account owner is, or where it has gone.

Edited by samoth, 03 June 2012 - 11:06 AM.


#13 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 27585

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 12:11 AM

Players A, B, and C each put $50 onto "the table". The prize is $100 ($150 minus $50 for the house). Player A wins and B cheats and wins. Both A and B demand you give them $100. What now?

That case is easy to dismiss, because presumably neither A nor B would have the authority to declare the result of the game (only your trusted central server would), so when B sends a "claim prize" message, you know they're trying to cheat (badly) and you optionally ban them for sending obviously tampered-with packets.

Now unluckily, player A knows a database exploit, so his account gets balanced every time anyone wins. At the end of the week, B and C ask you to pay out 33,000 each, and A asks for 100,000. That's minus 16,000 for you. What now?

This one's a bit scarier, but again, presumably you don't have your game's database exposed to the internets -- all DB transactions would be made by the trusted server above.
This is a concern for anyone that maintains a database of financial data - you need to ensure you've got a full "paper trail" on all transactions. Once per pay-cycle, before you convert virtual currency into cash, you'd presumably validate all of the transaction trails and ensure they all traced back to initial cash-to-virtual-currency transactions. In the event that someone does inject a phoney virtual-to-cash transaction, they'd also have to inject the whole paper trail of where that virtual-currency came from in the first place, or they'd in effect just be corrupting your DB.

If that's already scary, think about a player gaining root access to your server and creating 5,000 or 10,000 accounts with a few thousand dollars worth of credit in each account. He then withdraws unsuspicious amounts from each. You'll need weeks (or months) to track this back, until then the money will have disappeared in some country where nobody will be able to tell you who the account owner is, or where it has gone.

This is the really scary one -- someone with inside knowledge of your systems gains the ability to really exploit them despite all the security measures and goes on to defraud you of large sums of money. If they don't just cause corruption or obviously invalid transactions like above, then it's probably an inside job, and a matter for police, just the same as if someone broke into your office and took off with $100,000 worth of equipment.

This last case though is a good reason why you might want to outsource ownership/maintenance over the payment part of such a system. e.g. I'm not sure how betable works, but if we assume that they're the custodians of A and B's bets, and they're responsible for paying out to A or B (and the leftovers to you), then this risk of being massively defrauded is shifted from you and onto betable... which is a pretty sweet deal.

I wonder how pokersites prevent [cheating] tho... I mean I've heard about the rare occurance that someone has hacked into the feed of what cards are coming out of the deck but it really is a rare occurance and I think by now that security issue has been sealed.

A good/fair virtual poker game won't allow the players to predict the deck, but they will allow you to confirm that you weren't cheated yourself.
* Server generates a random deck by shuffling the cards.
* Generate a hash from that deck / encrypt the deck with a too-long-to-crack key.
* Send the hash / encrypted deck to all players before the round.
* Play game
*** Server knows who's turn it is and what actions they can take. Listens for commands from that player. There's no room for players to break the rules, as the server controls the game.
*** When drawing cards, the server tells everyone that it has drawn a card (so they can reconstruct the game later), but only gives the card's face value to the player who needs to know about it.
* After the game, the server sends the initial deck / key to all players. They can compare the initial hash/encrypted deck with the later deck/key and also with the history of the game's events. Each player can now be sure that the server was playing fair and did all of it's random number generation (shuffling) before the game began.

If you want to cheat at online poker, there's two methods --
1) Figure out a key breaker for the pre-game deck sharing step. If you can reverse the hashed deck back into a real deck, you can predict the whole game. You'd probably use a rainbow table here, but I doubt it's really feasible. Plus, not every server carries out this step -- it's only the reputable servers who want to prove they're not cheating against you that do this.
2) Have more than one friendly player at the table. If you're at a table of 4 people, but you control 3 of those people, then the three of you can share information to help each other. This doesn't let you rob the house, but it gives you much better odds of winning a hand than the 4th player (or 2nd real player) has, letting you win their money. Online hosts combat this by randomly assigning players to tables, but in theory, if you wrote a bot that could act as millions of clients, it would have a good chance of meeting up with itself online.

Edited by Hodgman, 04 June 2012 - 12:25 AM.


#14 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 18836

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 11:15 AM


This is not a game design question, so I'm moving it out of Game Design. The question is also not about legality, it's about how hacking is prevented. Looking for the right forum to put it in...

You are wrong, it's about implementing betting into games.. that is a game design issue.

What I don't get is why it was moved to General Programming. This has precisely nothing to do with programming. It should definitely go back to Game Design.


Actually, taken in entirety with his other recent topics:
* Cheating in WoW
* Creating cheat-bots and selling them
* Ideas for fixing cheating in combat systems

And his lines in this post:

And they take care of the legal issues so we can add betting to our games.

But this is something I've always been interested in even as a gamer if there's a competition for money in a game it catches my entire attention.

I mean, If it's possible to implement betting into games... I don't see why most games don't do it?
It's pretty much free money for you if you count away the legal issues.

They don't have a chance to win any money from us.. so we're always safe from what you're talking about.


Which makes me think the entire point of this thread is not about how to bet real money. Nor is it a way to implement betting into games legally.

This is just another posts in a series about avoiding personal responsibility

I agree that there is no forum for this, looks like two other mods have agreed that it doesn't belong in various places.




Recapping the subject without the meta-discussion:

Original post: Why has nobody has implemented the easy-money gambling scheme yet?
Hodgman's reply: Legal issues, real life jail time penalties
Samoth's reply: Legal issues, impossible to prevent cheaters, jail time
glhf: what if I prevent one form of cheating?
samoth: You cannot prevent all cheating.
Hodgman: There are still untold ways people can cheat. There are good reasons the easy-money scheme doesn't work in real life.
frob: Implementing that get-rich-quick scheme is illegal in most countries. Do it at your own peril.


Let's count this as a successful discussion, shall we?
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.




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