Kids are gambling millions of dollars on Roblox casinos
Sharpr is a weekly newsletter covering the intersection of esports and betting
Hi everyone, Cody here.
Today we’re bringing you an exclusive story on Roblox’s underground skin betting scene.
Hidden in various Discord servers behind cryptic online usernames and an ocean of subversive social media content are a handful of black market casino sites aggressively targeting the franchise’s youthful audience and facilitating illegal gambling services.
Let’s jump in.
Kids are gambling millions of dollars on Roblox casinos
A new form of black market gambling is exploiting Roblox IP to dress unregulated betting in a video game-like ephemera, and children are being lured in the process.
Online casino sites being built from the ground up are intentionally targeting the game’s predominantly underage audience, where, of its nearly 200M monthly active users, approximately 62% of users are 16 and under.
These sites allow users to login with their Roblox accounts and deposit both in-game items or Robux (Roblox’s in-game currency) that can then be used to gamble on a variety of luck-based casino and head-to-head games. In some cases, users can also deposit funds using a credit card, cryptocurrency, and even store gift cards.
“Bro, I’m not even 18 yet,” one user expressed openly in a Discord voice server on Bloxflip as a handful of other members watched them livestream rounds of the popular casino game “Crash” while asking one another for money to bet with.
Bloxflip is one of several unlicensed casino operators in the underground Roblox gambling space. According to the owner of a popular third-party Roblox trading site who agreed to speak with Sharpr for this story, they are far-and-away the biggest player.
“Bloxflip just really took off after they launched with their current design, as it's meant to mimic legitimate crypto gambling sites,” they said in a private Discord message. “Nobody in the Roblox space had [ever] really done [that] before,” they added, despite a number of other sites attempting to take a piece of this market in the past.
While Bloxflip’s slick design gave it an advantage over competitors such as RBXFlip and RBLXWild, predatory marketing practices which recruit and pay content creators—regardless of their age—to promote its platform to young and impressionable followings have been a clear difference maker.
DarkkHayden, a 14-year-old Roblox creator with over 600K combined followers on YouTube and TikTok, is one of many examples. In January, they claimed to have received an email from Bloxflip’s marketing team offering to sponsor their content, agreeing to pay a fixed rate for views and an affiliate code that would provide a percentage of wagers from referred accounts in perpetuity.
Another example is uwucutesingle, a Roblox creator with over 6.4M subscribers on YouTube and known Bloxflip partner, who revealed that they were 16-years-old in a post last year. A sponsored video from January 11 has over 7M views.
“Like 90 percent of the people promoting are underage, and it's not even difficult to figure that out just based on the type of content they put out,” the owner of the Roblox trading site said. “These gambling sites don't do any due diligence in asking for the age of the people they're promoting with.”
Bloxflip-sponsored content is readily available and frequently consumed online; there are over 20B views associated with the term “Bloxflip” on TikTok alone.
Promotional videos like this make references to “homework,” while others claim users can get “rich” using these sites. It’s unlikely content of this nature would hold up against any regulatory authority, which prohibits betting advertising that appeals to persons below 18 or 21, depending on the jurisdiction.
If this newsletter was forwarded to you, please consider subscribing.
Details behind Bloxflip (and other sites like it) are scarce, with the names of staff often obscured behind ambiguous online usernames and offshore management companies. Bloxflip did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Here’s what we do know about the company:
Bloxflip is owned and operated by Studs Entertainment Ltd, a private company incorporated in Cyprus.
The company had over 1.3M registered users as of January, according to an email obtained by Sharpr.
Approximately 46% of the site’s total web traffic comes from the United States, according to data from Semrush.
Bloxflip’s official Discord server has over 49,000 members and is growing quickly, having leaped by more than 5,000 users as of this writing since July 10.
Discord users can also earn special roles in the server, such as “whale,” (a casino industry term used to describe high rollers) by wagering 1M Robux, the equivalent of $12,500, on the platform.
RBXFlip is another rapidly growing site. In December 2021, RBXFlip’s owner said that the platform generated “anywhere from a few million to upwards of 10 million plus” Robux daily. A sponsored article from June 2022 claims the site has handled more than 100M in Robux wagers (approximately $1.25M) and surpassed 100K unique users.
The situation Roblox has found itself in is eerily similar to what Counter-Strike has experienced with skin gambling. Like in Counter-Strike, items in Roblox have a liquid marketplace where they can be sold for real-money or Robux on black market trading sites. Roblox itself will also purchase Robux in exchange for real-money at an exchange rate of 1 Robux for $0.0035.
This means gamblers can earn actual winnings betting on these sites, and Roblox unintentionally profits from it too. The company takes a 30% commission on all transactions, known as a “marketplace fee.” This means that 30% of the Robux a user withdraws on Bloxflip goes straight to Roblox Corporation.
While Roblox hasn’t publicly acknowledged these sites, claims suggest they’ve collided in the past. In a 2021 interview, RBXFlip’s owner said Roblox had taken the gambling site down via a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) legal request sent to Amazon Web Services where it was being hosted. RBXFlip said it then moved to an “offshore” host who won’t enforce the copyright law, and thus enable them to continue operating unencumbered.
When reached for comment, a representative for Roblox said the company is taking action against these third-party sites, but declined to elaborate on its measures.
“Bad actors make illegal use of Roblox’s intellectual property and branding to operate such sites in violation of our standards,” a spokesperson for Roblox Corporation said in an emailed statement to Sharpr. “Roblox has teams and processes in place to investigate these websites to protect our brand and platform, including, where possible, having the websites removed. In some cases, we engage with law enforcement as part of our efforts.
“Ensuring a safe and compliant online experience for users of Roblox is a core tenant of the company. Roblox will continue to be vigilant in combating entities who engage in practices that are in violation of our policies or endanger the safety of our community.”
Valve was able to successfully put a dent in the CS:GO skin gambling industry in 2016 after issuing a cease-and-desist notice from its legal counsel to at least 23 betting sites. The developer noted these sites violated its terms of service on Steam for allowing users to connect their accounts and trade in-game items for real money.
Based on Roblox’s terms and conditions, the company may be able to exercise a similar option to curb this illicit market from sprawling further.
But today, by our measure, this segment of the skin gambling industry is continuing to grow quickly. New Roblox casino sites, such as RBXGold, are cropping up in an effort to out-do one another, and there unfortunately doesn’t seem to be any shortage of consumers willing to take them out for a spin.