Is It Safe to Gamble on the Dark Web?

Dark Web

There are few topics which capture the imagination quite like the dark web. News stories, in-depth editorials, and endless documentaries have been created to show the world what goes on there, and this only goes to show the appetite people have to learn more about the ‘dark web’ aka ‘deep web.’

This mysterious alternative internet which lurks in the shadows, beyond the reach of Google and other search engines, offers everything the human mind can imagine, including opportunities to gamble with cryptocurrencies.

In this piece, I’ll show you what the dark web is, how it works, what gambling services are available there, and I’ll answer the question as to whether or not it’s safe to gamble there.

What Exactly Is the Dark Web?

To understand what the dark web is, it’s first necessary to understand the surface web. Don’t worry; this isn’t going to be a technical piece. It’s actually extremely simple to understand.

Google and other major search engines constantly ‘crawl’ the web in search of sites to list. That’s how they end up popping up when you search for something. Deep web sites have scripts on them which tell search engines not to index them. You could say they are ‘non-indexed’ sites and pages.

Most of this is uninteresting and consists of things like bank data and boring code which is of no interest to everyday people. However, a small percentage of it is actual websites offering services – often illegal ones.

The illegal services, such as black markets offering everything and anything, tend to be what the media focuses on. That’s natural since those stories are more sensational and so more people are interested in them.

However, there are also lots of other services on the dark web such as forums for journalists, chat services for people with various niche interests to connect, and online casinos, sportsbooks, and poker sites, among other things. That’s what I’m primarily interested in, being a gambler.

Dark Web Gambling Sites – How People Find Them

It’s impossible to give an up-to-date list of dark web casinos or sportsbooks for the simple reason that websites aren’t listed the way they are on the surface web. Each dark web site has a .onion extension instead of a .com, and the web addresses often change as sites get shut down, and they move to other servers to avoid detection.

To find live links to dark web gambling sites, people use a browser called TOR. Without getting too technical, TOR stands for The Onion Router, and it’s extremely difficult to track people who use it.

Once in possession of TOR, people search for gambling sites or visit indexes like the Hidden Wiki, and with a little bit of digging, come across a few dark web gambling websites.

To understand the scale of darknet gambling, consider that police in China shut down a $1.5 billion gambling ring during the 2018 World Cup. That’s an insane amount of money, by anyone’s standards. Authorities claim this was a scam, so it’s probably a good thing that the police found it and shut it down.

How Gambling On the Dark Web Is Done

Like most financial transactions on the dark web, gambling there is done using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin.

As many people on the dark web are concerned with privacy, many people also transact in privacy-coins like Monero and Verge.

The idea here is similar to many other cryptocurrency casinos – players buy the cryptocurrency at an exchange and send it to either to the wallet address of the gambling site or their own wallet address within the site, depending on how things are set up.

After the accounts have been funded, dark web gambling sites operate just like any other. Bettors can wager on slots, roulette, blackjack, sports events, and play in poker tournaments, just like they would at a regular gambling site.

Except for one problem…

Most Dark Web Gambling Sites Are Scams

As the story linked to above should highlight, there are massive scams going on all over the dark web. Unfortunately, gambling scams are included, and many players have fallen victim to them. Here are some of the most common:

Ponzi Schemes – Sites use the deposits of new players to pay out older players. These sites eventually collapse when too many people try to cash out at once or when the owners decide to run with the money.

Deposit Scams – These sites don’t even bother to pay out. They bank on getting a few dozen players to make sizable deposits through incentives such as larger than life deposit match offers. Of course, the bonuses never materialize, and players find their account locked after depositing.

Fixed Games – These games are impossible to win. It’s obvious that no legit casino software provider is going to work with a darknet gambling site. You won’t find Playtech or NetEnt providing games at these sites, and any claims to the contrary are lies. If you do see these games on the darknet, they’re likely pirated and will be rigged.

Fake Syndicates – Humans love easy money, and scammers know that. There are lots of fake syndicates claiming to have fixed bet tips and insider knowledge. You’ll have to pay to find out, though. It’s almost a certainty you’re going to lose money this way.

As you can see, the gambling scams on the dark web are similar to the ones on the regular internet. It’s just so much easier for scammers to get away with it on the dark web because it’s difficult to track transactions, there’s no regulated process for starting a dark web site such as a central domain registrar, and sites move from server to server to avoid detection.

These scam sites also reveal the dark side of cryptocurrencies. While it’s awesome to be able to gamble online anonymously, cryptos can be a double-edged sword in this regard.

After all, if you deposit crypto at a scam site on the dark web, you can’t exactly call the cops. They might wonder what you were doing on the dark web in the first place, and they likely won’t be able to do much to help you unless the scam is big enough to get the attention of national authorities.

Scam Insight – The Insider Tips Scam

There’s a clever trick which dark web gambling scammers often employ to gain your confidence and lure you into fake syndicates and these ‘insider tip’ scams. They’ll ask you to sign up with your e-mail address, and when 100 or so people have signed up, they’ll e-mail 50 with one result and 50 with another.

They’ll then discard the e-mail addresses which received the losing bets and divide the other 50 again. They’ll e-mail 25 with one result and 25 with another. They might even do this a third time, by which stage the dozen or so remaining addresses which have received three winning tips in a row for free and are super excited and are convinced the tipster has inside information on fixed matches.

This is when the money request comes in. To continue receiving the insider tips, you’ll have to pay 1 BTC or sometimes even more. If they get even half of those people to pay up, they’re in the money. You can just imagine how big these scams can get where they start with 1,000 or more e-mail addresses!

My Verdict On Dark Web Gambling – Curiosity Killed the Cat

Humans are curious creatures, and there’s just nothing we can do about that. In fact, that’s why so many of us are fascinated with things like the dark web. We can’t help but be interested in the ‘forbidden’ and ‘secret’ things in life.

Yet, when it comes to gambling on the deep web, my advice is the opposite of what Nike say: Just don’t do it!

The chances of you getting burned here are sky high. The darknet is jam-packed full of criminals and scammers of every persuasion. Even if a gambling site does offer real services, you’re taking unnecessary risks when there are so many legit online gambling sites on the ‘surface’ web.

If you’re trying to avoid pesky regulations, consider sites which accept players from restricted countries like the USA. If you’re trying to play from a country where gambling is outright illegal, you’re exactly the kind of person scammers want to rip off – they know you can’t report them when you were doing something illegal.

My advice is simple – do not gamble on the dark web under any circumstances

There are so many reasons not to, and I can’t think of a single reason to do so.

That’s my two cents, though. I’ve poked around on the dark web enough to know that there’s nothing good down there. It’s OK to take a look if curiosity gets the better of you (provided it’s not illegal in your country), but be extremely careful and whatever you do, don’t bite any red apples you come across no matter how shiny – because they’re likely loaded with poison.

Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.