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You Can Now Bet Crypto on Hamster Races. What Could Go Wrong?

Good news for those seeking fortune and feeling exceedingly brave: you can now win crypto (and lose it too) betting on online hamster races.

Quietly launched last week, Hamsters.gg—a site claiming to host the “world’s first livestreamed hamster race”—has quickly amassed a devoted clientele of crypto gamblers hoping to ride a fleet of six-inch-long rodents to untold riches, with race hamsters like “Popcorn,” “Buster,” and “Sparky” in the running.

At semi-regular intervals, four hamsters at a time are placed in a custom-engineered racing straightaways fitted with automated starting stall doors. Up to the start of a given race, gamblers with connected crypto wallets can bet any sum of Binance USD (BUSD) stablecoin on a competing race hamster of their choosing.

Once the stall doors are lifted, the race down the foot-long track is on, accompanied by a soothing soundtrack of bossa nova elevator music. In most races, the hamsters tend to lie in place on their stomachs for a few minutes, until a sole victor ambles forward over the finish line.

Winning bettors get to split the pool of bets; 5% of all bets are absorbed by the house.

While the process may sound to some like a surefire path to enduring wealth, there’s one small snag: the races aren’t actually being held live as you see them.

Instead, they're pre-recorded by the team of three developers and rodent-wranglers that run the site. This is done, according to the platform’s pseudonymous core developer Dani, to prevent the possibility that a livestream would capture a hamster dying mid-race, or go on indefinitely if the hamsters decided not to move.

When asked how such a setup could preclude Dani and his team members from betting themselves on hamsters they knew would win, the developer replied to Decrypt: “Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee it.”

Dani insisted, though, that he’s in it for a love of the game—and a love of rodents, too. Several years ago, he said he experimented with a “similar concept” that involved racing mice.

“It never became big, unfortunately,” he said.

This time around, Dani incorporated tokenomics—there’s a HAMS token that rewards hodlers with a taste of the house’s cut of losing bets. He also switched to hamsters: “They’re cuter, they don’t have tails, and they come in a lot of colors," he explained. Dani and his team own nine hamsters in total; he maintains they are “well treated.”

Elon Musk: Dogecoin-Trading Hamster 'Has Mad Skillz'

As for pesky questions of legality, Dani claimed he has no concerns.

“We are definitely going to make sure we’re legal,” he said. In numerous countries, including the United States, it is illegal to run or participate in a gambling operation that has not received a license to operate.

Those lingering questions haven’t, however, slowed the ballooning expansion of the Hamsters.gg community. The group’s Telegram channel features 2,384 members (and counting). On Twitter, the site has already attracted a fair amount of attention after breaking through the noise earlier today.

And to the bold individuals who have already put their hard-earned crypto on the line to participate in this allegedly novel performance sport, the thrill of hamster racing appears quite gripping.

“Putting all my money on Oliver,” one hamster-player wrote in the Hamsters.gg race chat room earlier Thursday. “Please put a gun to his head or my kid won’t be getting back to school supplies.”

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