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There is a long tradition in New Eden of gambling for ISK. Win or lose, many EVE players seem just as willing to risk their ISK on games of chance, lotteries, and poker as they are to risk their ships by clicking the Undock button. This article explores player gambling habits, services that provide gambling opportunities, trust and legitimacy of such services, and tips for not going broke when you put your ISK on the line.
To find out more about EVE players’ ISK-gambling habits, I conducted a survey to which 60 players responded. In questions about gambling sites, I included SOMERBlink even though it is now shut down. Given its popularity, it is insightful to compare its results against those of other sites. Some respondents skipped questions but a summary of overall results shows that:
Gambling for ISK is a regular activity for 29% of respondents.
Over half of respondents reported that they have profited from gambling for ISK.
Overall winnings trended toward lower amounts, with the majority having won 5 billion ISK or less.
Overall losses also trended toward lower amounts, with over half reporting losses of 1 billion ISK or less.
SOMERBlink, EVE-Bet, and EVE Online Hold’em were the three most popular choices among all gambling sites in the survey.
Nearly 58% respondents indicated they have had concerns about the fairness of gambling sites.
You can see detailed results from the survey in the slideshow below.
EVE’s Top Gambling Providers
In researching this article, I identified six third-party sites currently offering ISK gambling services to the general EVE community:
EVE Online Hold-Em (EOH) offers chip-based Texas Hold’em, Omaha ring games and live buy-in tournaments. They also offer betting on EVE events such as the Alliance Tournament.
EVE-Bet offers sports, racing, e-sports, EVE Online tournament betting, slots, Blackjack, Roulette and ISK lotteries.
EVE Blackjack offers a single player blackjack game where the player controls how many hands they play.
Evening Games Club offers a casino-style betting game which also incorporates collectible chips and achievement awards.
I attempted to contact each provider with interview questions. Responses were received from EVEBlackjack, EVE-Bet, and EVE Online Hold’em by the requested deadline. Iwantisk didn’t acknowledge my request until two days past the deadline. A Tweet directly to @TheMittani requesting a response yielded no contact for Evening Games Club, nor did several visits to their in-game channel. I got no response from New Eden Club.
All of these services appear to employ a mechanism whereby players create accounts in the in-game browser and then deposit ISK to a specific entity in-game. The API is then used to handle crediting player accounts with their deposits. EOH also offers live tournaments hosted by secured bankers. For those, the buy-in is paid to the hosting banker in-game and then that banker starts the tournament table in the poker client when the game fills. Payouts to tournament winners are made in-game by the hosting banker.
Can You Trust Them?
Considering player response to my survey question about site fairness, I was interested in what these services had to say about inspiring player trust. Third-party services are not subject to oversight by CCP except for the requirement that they not violate the EULA/TOS (as SOMERBlink learned when they were shut down for RMT). However, scamming, stealing, and deceiving is permitted within the boundaries of the EULA/TOS, so there is nothing stopping gambling sites from scamming you out of your ISK, cheating with alt characters to keep winnings in-house, or employing mechanisms that give the house overly favorable odds of winning.
So how do you know who you can trust? It’s difficult to pin that criteria down, but the experiences of other players, longevity of service, transparency, and engagement with the community are key indicators.
EVE-Bet acknowledged that the skepticism about them when their service started over two years ago was to be expected as normal for EVE. They went on to say, “…the trust we have garnered is from being honest from the beginning. We always pay out and we take a great deal of pride in being professional at all times with our service. We also spend a great deal of time being active in the community, supporting any and all events and player gatherings we can. We give back as much as physically possible to the community that enables us to do what we do.”
EOH owner Niraia stated that providing a fair and impartial gambling experience is something they have always taken very seriously over the seven-plus years they have been in business. “It is vital that our users feel secure that the outcome of the games they play is determined purely by their skill, and of course the luck of the draw.” To ensure this, they use commercially available poker software that has a high level of security and fair random number generator. Niraia notes that it is impossible for EOH to alter the outcome of a game.
Saint Stephen, another EOH owner, describes poker as PVP. Players compete against each other, not the house. “In games vs. the house, your opponent is the site hosting the game – which is typically using software written or adapted by the purveyors. EOH’s use of secure third-party software means that your risk is always undertaken against another live player. Our take is a standard 5% for both ring and tournament games.”
EVE Blackjack gives players 25 free credits when when they sign up so they can try the service out for themselves and see how it works without risking any of their own ISK. The owner of this service says, “I show totals bet and paid out on the front page so there is complete transparency between Eve Blackjack and players about what is getting paid out. Eve Blackjack has been around for nearly two years – the fact that people keep playing here is an indicator that we are a legit operation.”
Several comments on the player survey cited earlier indicated that CCP should provide more oversight of third party gambling services because of the vast quantities of ISK involved. It’s difficult to imagine how this could conceivably be done except for identifying and taking action related to activities that are EULA/TOS violations, something they already do. Others disagreed with any need for CCP oversight, observing that the players should shoulder all the risk for their actions as long as gambling sites adhere to EULA/TOS requirements. Still others suggested that gambling for ISK should happen only via in-game mini-games.
In the end, players have to decide for themselves which services to trust and how much exposure to potential loss they can tolerate. It is wise to join a service’s advertised in-game channel, visit their site to read FAQs and other information provided, check out their forum thread (if they have one), talk to others who play there, and search the Internet for articles and other information about the service. After that, the only thing left to do is create an account, put a little ISK into the pot, and play for awhile to see if the service appeals to you.
Advice for Not Going Broke
No question about it, gambling with ISK is great fun and we are fortunate to have a wide selection of services providing the opportunity. Players have won and lost vast fortunes. Losses are a given – that’s the nature of the beast. To avoid suddenly discovering that you are down by billions and wondering where it all went, here are a few tips for minimizing your risk:
Do your research before choosing a service and decide which offers games and stakes that best fit your preferences and wallet
Set aside a fixed amount of ISK in a “gambling bankroll” that you are comfortable risking
If you win enough to cover your initial bankroll, pay yourself back and continue to gamble only with winnings
If your bankroll is depleted by losses, consider whether reinvestment is a good idea
Keep your gambling activities and results in perspective – and in balance with the rest of your Eve Online activities
Regularly assess your wins and losses: are you ahead or not?
Just like clicking the undock button, responding to too-good-to-be-true offers in Jita Local, taking a shortcut through Rancer, or jumping blind into a wormhole, gambling for ISK is all about taking a chance and hoping for the best. May fortune favor you, pilot!
Tags: gambling, Mynxee
Mynxee began her New Eden adventures in 2007 and has sampled most of the activities that New Eden has to offer in high, low, and null sec, but is best known as a low sec pirate and founder/CEO of Hellcats. She was elected CSM5 Chairperson in 2010.