Fairlay is one of the largest bitcoin-only prediction markets and betting exchange. Most of the action can be found in cryptocurrency market-related events, with a smattering of bets placed in the sportsbetting exchange - which offer some of the best odds in the market, often beating even betfair. They've also set up a "news" and "fun" section, and while nothing stops you from setting up a bet and giving odds, Fairlay has not yet accumulated the critical mass of users to make it likely your bet will be taken.
Our biggest fans have probably already read the review of Augur, the market's first working decentralized prediction market, in which we described how making a prediction is effectively the opening a smart contract which automatically pays out if proven correct by the subsequent event. Events themselves are reported on by the crowd themselves, and thus the entire process is decentralized.
Fairlay is a centralized version of the above. It is run by anonymous ownership, responsible for accurately reporting on events and subsequently paying out bets to the winners. In standard sportsbooks this is par for the course - the only difference being that mainstream operators are often regulated with known ownership. Of course, as Fairlay operates in the United States, which has expressly forbidden most prediction markets, anonymity is arguably simply a matter of self-preservation for those behind the product. However, Fairlay is relatively new, relatively small, and though quite an innovative product, a bit rough around the edges. (Where are the terms and conditions, for instance?) While we have no reason to believe ownership is anything but honorable, and they certainly seem so based on their interactions with the bitcoin community in various forums, users should still play at their own risk. It should also be noted that ownership has stated their desire to decentralize the exchange in the future, and it will be interesting to see how this progresses.
Opening an Account
Registration requires jotting down a username, password and email, which must be verified prior to first login. Post login, a user need simply click on the "welcome" message in the upper right hand corner in order to launch the profile dashboard, which includes the deposit address to which bitcoin should be sent. Users are notified via email when deposits are received. To make a withdrawal, simply navigate to the "My Cashouts" section of the profile dashboard, input your bitcoin address, and then "request a cashout". All very simply, self-explanatory and fast.
Placing a bet with Fairlay
Fairlay could do a better job explaining how to use the product to potential users, which is complex compared to standard betting platforms. Those familiar with the betfair template should have an easier time understanding fairlay.
There are two interfaces with which to become familiar. The first is the list of events, which is split into bitcoin, sports, news and fun. Underneath each particular category, a submenu allows more specific queries which is useful for sports which obviously has multiple events each day to bet on. Otherwise, predictions are displayed chronologically.
The event table can be displayed using either percentage or decimal odds formats. Using a percentage format will show the percentage odds for a particular outcome, the total number of predictions made on the particular event, the total amount wagered, and the amount that is unmatched - meaning the odds offered have found no takers, and the bet is currently still open.
Switching to the decimal format will show the amount of bets, in mBTC, currently open, as well as the odds offered to take the bet.
In the above illustration, there are two bets available under the "on" category, one of which offers odds of 21x the bet, the other offering 51x the bet. Underneath each is displayed the amount which may be wagered, in mBTC. If a user would like to accept the odds on the particular bet, they may bet up to the amount shown.
The against side shows the odds you must give the person you are betting against. So someone out there is willing to bet 10 mBTC at odds of 101:1 that OKCoin will lose at least $1 million in customer funds within the next 2 weeks and six days.
Let's imagine that you are absolutely sure OKCoin will not lose over $3 million in customer funds in the next 3 weeks, and you are willing to put your money where your mouth is and take these massive odds. Clicking on the bet offered will open up the bet slip, shown below:
Assuming you are keen to take the entire bet, simply click on the "place prediction" button at the bottom of the screen.
Let's imagine that you believe there is a slight chance that OKCoin will lose these funds, but you believe the odds offered of 50 to 1 aren't sufficient to take such a massive risk. You would, however, offer slightly better odds than the 101:1 odds currently offered, let's say 75:1. To offer this bet, you would simply adjust the odds to 75:1 against (Fairplay only allows odds to the third decimal point), hit the amount you would like to wager, place your prediction, and wait and see if someone accepts your bet.
Fairlay takes no fees on the sports betting category and deposits and withdrawals are free. They deduct a 2% turnover fee from winning bets, but this is never allowed to exceed the amount won.
Support is available via email, and will generally respond to any query within 24 hours.
There is a web based product that is responsibly designed - but the design is not terribly user friendly, and navigation is a bit cumbersome. Still, placing bets and checking your account can be done reasonably easily from handheld devices.
Fairlay is an innovative product, offering prediction markets and a betfair-style betting exchange (albeit with a tiny, tiny, miniscule sliver of a fragment of the liquidity) to the US market. Users can set up their own odds, which means you only need take action on your terms. Odds are very good, often at betfair levels. Will be quite interesting to see if Fairplay is able to increase their liquidity to the point where it becomes a serious alternative to standard bookmakers.