Arguably the kingdaddy of online non-sports betting and darling of the crowd-wisdom crowd closed its doors yesterday.
This is the third blow in the last couple years, the first being the Mt. Everest death of John Delaney in May 2011.Then last year the US government (the commodities trade commission) forced InTrade to drop its US user base, which pretty much killed site traffic — from 287k/mo in November to “too low to count” last month . Now funny book-keeping?
When I tell the b3tz story I often get comparisons to InTrade so we’ve tracked them pretty closely for the last few years. They were an obvious proof for the large demand for non-sports predictions, although that proof is a bit murky — in my view their product was aimed at sports bettors and finance traders, a demographic with a highly developed competitive sensibility (in Bartle terms — Killers), so I question the breadth of their userbase somewhat. But betting on the next Pope and the Oscar winners has very broad appeal and they certainly took a running start at monetizing that impulse.
But what I thought they did especially well was how they used the internet to intentionally blur the semantic and jurisdictional lines protecting the two big-money global “prediction markets” — finance and sports gaming. Those are arguably the biggest businesses in the world right now and two collections of people who can develop a professional interest in your kneecaps pretty quickly. I had thought that InTrade had figured out how to “manage the situation”. Apparently not.