People Are Betting Big on Risky Crypto ‘Crash’ Games
Gamblers flock to a new kind of online casino that’s open 24 hours a day
“I’ve kind of developed a problem,” J.J. tells me over Discord voice chat.
In his early teens, his dad won $50,000 on a scratch-off lotto ticket, dramatically improving the family’s living situation almost overnight. “That helped us not be poor,” he said. But the windfall also colored his views of gambling in ways that didn’t become evident until recently. Unemployed for nearly a year — and trapped inside like the rest of us — the 23-year-old has discovered that a web browser and a cryptocurrency wallet can serve as an ersatz casino with its own network of marketers who appear on platforms like YouTube and Twitch, drawing in players and keeping them betting.
J.J. only bets a few cents per play, but that added up quickly over the course of the four hours a day he would spend gambling online. After two months, J.J. found himself $1,500 in the hole. “I am the depressing 70-year-old woman at the slot machine dumping her SSI checks,” he joked.
Like a lot of young people lately, he arrived in this situation in part by watching enticing videos of a cartoon rocket.
The spaceship is the emblem of Crash, a style of betting game born in the semi-legal world of online cryptocurrency casinos. In each round, players follow a rocket’s trajectory upward and a corresponding “multiplier” of what their bets could pay out. But at any point on the journey, even just after the rocket takes off, it can “crash,” resulting in a complete loss of all bets still left in the pool. The goal of the game is to cash out before the crash with as big of a multiplier as possible.
Even after a successful cash out, there’s a thrill in watching the numbers tick upward, especially in the rare cases of multipliers that hit tens of thousands. In the time it would take to do the math on how many months of rent you could have paid off with your winnings, the next round starts. The game runs continuously, 24 hours a day.
It’s no shock then that the daily wager totals at Crash betting sites can hit eye-popping sums. Betting amounts for all users are public as are the multiples at which each player cashes out…