“The world’s first Ethereum-powered crypto casino” is how Edgeless describe themselves. We can’t verify this but it’s fair to say that in terms of offering a holistic online casino experience, as opposed to just single blockchain games, they were certainly one of the pioneers.
The project received much fanfare in its early days, regularly appearing in the media as one of the prime use cases for blockchain, and in particular, Ethereum technology. Alongside contemporaries, such as FunFair Technologies, the crypto casino regularly vaunted its innovative tech at gaming trade shows and held good standing amongst online crypto communities.
Edgeless’ idea was a simple one: to provide transparency in a sector that regularly sees the house cheat its players. Tomas Draksas, the project’s founder, stated in Edgeless’ very first blog post how stakeholders in the $46 billion industry would find it “really hard” to resist the temptation to tweak house edges and randomness mechanisms for their own gains.
Dizzy heights and crypto madness
At CGN, we know where he’s coming from. The prime benefit of blockchain tech is to return players the peace of mind they deserve when gambling online. Edgeless had promised this, and then proved it with its first decentralised slot in 2016 and went onto launch a successful ICO in 2017.
Amongst the crypto madness of the time, Edgeless raised a reasonable sum of roughly 47,000 ETH ($1.9m at the time, but soon to become considerably more valuable) through the sale of its betting utility token EDG. And from there, the team set about building one of the first usable (in the crypto sense), aesthetically pleasing, multi-game casinos on the Ethereum blockchain.
Earning listings at the likes of Bittrex and HitBTC provided the project with both greater awareness and legitimacy. Coupled with the acquisition of a Curacao gambling licence and a seemingly content community of players and token holders, Edgeless was definitely going places.
But even its own team wouldn’t have seen what was coming next. EDG’s price skyrocketed as the early 2018 bull market went crazy. EDG hit a peak of $2.79, with a total market cap of well over $230m, the project had the runway of its dreams and its token holders had the cash to send the casino handle to the moon.
Games were slowly but surely added to the platform, offering something for both casino stalwarts and the new generation of crypto player, and today, the Edgeless game portfolio consists of a respectable 14 in-house developed games. Dice, crash, roulette, video poker, hi lo and slots are all available, and as the name would suggest, they’re all without an edge; a significant USP for any online casino.
Staking mechanisms were drawn up and launched, allowing players a secondary income to their betting activity, and it was hard to argue at the time that Edgeless wasn’t one of the leading decentralised casinos around.
Shock to the system
And then the bear market came. Not out of line with the rest of the crypto market, Edgeless’ market cap fell within a year to less than 10% of its dizzy high. Not disastrous provided the team had managed the runway well, and these numbers were still significantly higher than its ICO takings.
Edgeless was still tweaking its casino platform in a challenging, unknown space, but these changes looked thought out and were to lead to its record DAU (daily active user) figures in the summer of 2019.
Day to day, the platform was seeing between 50-70 players in the middle of last year. Perhaps not impressive when compared to less decentralised projects, but these numbers saw them regularly hit the higher echelons of dapp ranking sites.
The team would have expected organic growth to continue as Ethereum dapps went further into the mainstream, but this failed to arrive at the speed it would have liked. And maybe this explains the current state of the Edgeless project today.
The last time the platform topped ten players in a day was November 2019, and most days see less than a handful of users gamble on-site. The fall has been monumental. Today’s EDG market cap sits at around $1.1m, with a single EDG available for less than a tenth of a cent. On CoinMarketCap, the project ranks outside of the top 1,000 tokens and trading volume struggles to break four figures most days.
Where are they now?
Edgeless’ once very active blog hasn’t updated since January, where it sought “faster user growth” through an affiliate platform launch. The casino’s status page currently reads “this page is currently inactive” and across the board, the group’s website content seems dated as though there’s no one behind the scenes to take care of it.
We don’t know whether that is the case, but there’s definitely some major issues at the project. Has the team run out of money? They’re still looking for jobs on site, but these could be idle too. Has the team lost interest? It would seem odd after so much has been put into it. Maybe the challenges linked to slow adoption and gas price hikes have crippled it once and for all?
Across Ethereum gambling, we’re seeing projects struggle to bring in the DAU’s they seek. And maybe Edgeless was the least prepared for the almost insurmountable issues of a slow, expensive Ethereum network. Augur’s v2 platform launched to much acclaim, and only this has kept it going despite the fact that bets often cost upwards of $15 to place. A more similar project, FunFair, and its partner casino CasinoFair, has been more prepared with its off-chain solution and ‘death to gas’ project.
Crypto casinos in the wider context are certainly performing well. Bitcasino.io, TrueFlip and TRON-based casinos, such as WINk, are seeing greater revenue than ever before. It's worth noting that these casinos offer various verticals and use faster crypto technology. Maybe this speed and variety is what Edgeless failed to compete with.
The last we see of Edgeless?
It’s likely that there isn’t one specific reason for Edgeless’ collapse. It may have come to the end of its runway, its marketing strategies may have failed, and players may have found cheaper, faster betting on different blockchains.
It could be something more serious. Maybe its staking program has come at odds to EDG’s position as a utility token, while legal threats may have come from certain jurisdictions it operates in.
All we can say is that Edgeless had, and arguably still has, a lot to offer. But it looks like this once pioneering project has come to its natural end. For now, all the activity we can see on-site is the ‘latest bets’ ticker on its homepage. ‘Jeffjung’ is the only player coming through, with repeated, identical 50/50 bets on Dice that look robotic in their nature. And as I finish this sentence, even Jeff seems to have had enough.
Edgeless were contacted for this article but did not respond.