To date, no method of analyzing Bitcoin transaction data has been found sufficient to gauge the state of the Bitcoin economy. In order to finally acquire such data, a survey, the first of its kind, was created to canvas all existing Bitcoin gambling site-owners, covering a range of high-level questions to determine the size and nature of this particular segment of the Bitcoin economy.
The survey asked the following questions:
- In terms of betting volume, which gambling game is played most frequently on your site?
- How large is your user base?
- How many of your users have deposited Bitcoins to your site?
- Where do your users come from (broken down into most, second most, and third most frequent country of origin)?
- What was the total amount of Bitcoins deposited to your site in August, 2011?
- What was the total amount of Bitcoins deposited to your site in September, 2011?
Of the 35 sites known to exist, 26 had contact info and were asked to complete the survey. Nine site-owners responded, covering nearly the entire range of Bitcoin gambling options, giving us enough data to create a useful snapshot of the fledgling Bitcoin gambling economy.
Most Frequently Played Game Type
There was almost no overlap in the types of sites that responded, except in the Lottery segment, where two sites responded to the survey. As a result, we have a well-rounded dataset.
Total Users - Registrants vs. Depositors
The survey did not ask for specific numbers, but a range. It looked like this:
To generate the graph, I used the high end of the range in the response, therefore the numbers are slightly skewed to the high side. More important, however, is the ratio between the two, which varied widely. Some types of gambling sites make registration and depositing one-in-the-same; those sites are clearly visible in the graph.
Ignoring sites where users and depositors are equal, conversion ratios are anywhere between 10% to 80%, depending on the site.
Not surprisingly, and in line with host connection statistics, Americans make up the largest user-base for most gambling sites. Canadians, Germans, and users from the UK cover off the vast majority of the remainder.
Again, the survey asked for a range value in response to the question of how many Bitcoins are being deposited to each site. The high-end value was used to generate the graph, so the numbers are skewed to the high side.
For Site 5, the responses were 1001-2000 BTC for August and 501-1000 for September. The graph gives the impression of a 50% drop in deposits, though that is most likely not the case. In retrospect, I should have provided a set of answers with smaller range options above 500 BTC. Nevertheless, the overall trend is a constant or increasing rate of deposits. Given that the value of a Bitcoin has dropped considerably from August to September, the overall revenue for Bitcoin gambling sites is likely steady or down slightly, though business appears to be healthy at this early stage in Bitcoin's evolution.
Taking the average of the ranges, total deposits across these nine sites is in the vicinity of 3000 BTC per month for each August and September, or 15,000 USD at today's Bitcoin market value, demonstrating how much room there is left to grow in this multi-billion dollar segment of the online economy.
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