Cricket is the most watched sport in India by far, engaging over 60% of the country. Football doesn't even come close, which is followed by 32% of Indians. Unsurprisingly, Cricket is also among the most popular sports for betting. The number of crypto owners is just as impressive.
Over 100 million Indians own cryptocurrency, more than any other country around the globe. For comparison, the United States comes right after on the leaderboard, with "only" 27 million owners. It was, therefore, just a matter of time for crypto and cricket to come together. How is the crypto craze affecting cricket? Keep reading to find out.
Bitcoins and Sports Betting
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoins are becoming prevalent among punters and for a few good reasons. For starters, all transactions are anonymous, instant, and considerably cheaper than more traditional payment methods. Sports betting is a huge market in the country, with an average of 140 million punters nationwide. However, during big events like the IPL, this number can skyrocket to 340 million. For most of those punters, it's all about cricket and bitcoin.
Many top-level cricket players can't resist cryptos, either. Harbhajan Singh, one of the best off-spinners in the sport, also invests heavily in cryptos. He partnered up with a popular Bitcoin exchange and used his massive popularity to bring more people into the market. Thangarasu Natarajan and Prithvi Shaw have also jumped into the crypto wagon.
Tokens and Bats
Tech companies are also surfing on cricket's popularity to promote cryptocurrencies. Recently, enthusiasts of both niches had an excellent reason to celebrate. The OKX Crypto Cricket Cup was launched by the Web3.0 company, OKX. The event took place between October and November 2023 and happened in parallel to the 2023 Cricket World Cup, hosted by India.
The OKX Crypto Cricket Cup aimed to promote Web 3.0 products. Participants received NFTs of teams taking part in the real-life competition. OKX's Cup offered prizes as big as USD 50,000 for competitors holding the NFTs of the best three teams.
The campaign also offered token giveaways and rewards for competitors who referred their friends and completed certain tasks. According to the organisers, cricket is the best sport for promoting Web 3.0 and GameFi products.
Unfortunately, cryptocurrencies aren't always used for honest purposes in this niche. In 2018, Heath Streak, former captain of the Zimbabwean national team, got involved in a scandal that shocked the cricket world.
Streak admittedly disclosed inside information to an Indian sportsbook while he was coaching in Zimbabwe, the Bangladesh Premier League, the Afghanistan Premier League, and also the IPL. The information was sold for 2 BTC, or about USD 35,000 at the time. Streak was investigated by the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit and he was banned from the sport for eight years.
In South Africa, the CSA's Twitter account was compromised by scammers trying to sell Bitcoin lotteries. The CSA has over 1 million followers on Twitter. The scam promised to pay 20 BTC to the winner, and participants would have to pay 0,01 BTC to join the lottery. The ill-intended tweet stayed online for about five hours.
Despite being the country with the most crypto owners worldwide, India has yet to regulate this market. Meanwhile, laws regarding cryptocurrencies mostly derive from other statutes, like the Money Laundering Act of 2002 and the Companies Act of 2013. A Cryptocurrency Bill was expected to come out in 2021, but it's still awaiting Parliament's approval.
Bitcoin comes with crucial features that help to make them safer and more transparent than regular money. This includes the fact it is decentralised and that all transactions are accessible on the public ledger.
Nevertheless, scams are still a problem. Recently, the Indian police have arrested eight
suspects of involvement in a USD 300 million crypto scam. Nearly 100,000 people have been affected, including government officials and police personnel. The scam was discovered in 2023, but the criminals have been active since 2018.
Bitcoin also has a limited supply, capped at 21 million units. This means that Bitcoin's value is shielded by its scarcity, which also protects it from central banks and inflation. Blockchain-based gambling and betting sites are also transparent. Users can check out the platform's ledger and analyse its operations. For instance, it's even possible to check the legitimacy of payouts.