Three years in the making, the first payments have cleared on Augur (REP), the decentralized, peer-to-peer betting and prediction platform, which happened to be one of the first applications built on Vitalik Buterin’s now famous Ethereum blockchain.
“The first markets have successfully resolved,” the project tweeted Wednesday. “Payments of ether worth around $20,000 are now going out to the first brave crop of users, who used the betting platform without knowing for sure whether it would work as advertised.”
CEO Joey Krug estimated that just over $20,000 worth of ether had been paid out, based on data from Predictions.Global, a site that displays Augur betting markets. He did not include the value of REP token stakes. The first initial bets were on live events happening around the time of the launch.
Augur is an exciting project because it truly represents a free capital market. Anyone, as long as they own Ethereum, can create a market free from government intervention.
Granted, a lot of the action on Augur has to do with future markets and this could be considered a binary option, which needs to be declared to the CFTC. A few years back, Intrade was shut down for a similar prediction market. However, Augur is decentralized and run by users with open-source, free software. This makes Augur very hard to pin down, regulate or even shut down in total. For example, if officials were to rule that Augur was facilitating illicit activity, they might try to go after the people who developed the software, much as malware developers have been held liable for their creations, which would be likely to set up a fight over First Amendment protections.
Recently, Augur was in the news because of a few assassination and deadpool markets floating around on the platform. The assassination pools on Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos and others did not get much traction making any sort of illegal activity un-alarming. That said, by creating a market for an assassination and placing a large “no” bet (actually, selling shares in the outcome), an individual or group could in effect place a bounty on the targeted person. The would-be assassin could then place a bet on “yes” (buy shares) and manipulate the outcome.
However, the REP community has long discussed these issues and members are quick to label these markets as invalid. “The Augur Reporter community has a powerful tool in their ability to mark a market as ‘invalid,'” said Predictions.Global co-founder Ryan Berckmans.
But, he added, reporters “are incentivized to report in a way with which they expect the REP-holding community will agree.” In other words, it’s up to token holders’ consensus to decide whether taking out life insurance on other people is acceptable on Augur.
The community so far has seemingly decided these type of bets are immoral and invalid based on discussion boards.