Just for fun: There is a retail bidding site QuiBids which has received a bit of press in the US recently. The attraction is that they offer products (such as ipads) for, say, an average price of $30-50 (whatever the highest bid is). One may wonder how this works.
Most auctions are “penny auctions”, meaning that each bid placed on an item increments the price by $0.01. Prospective buyers pay for each bid they put forward on an item. In fact, the company charges $0.60 / bid. So with an end-auction price of, say, $50, the ipad has brought in $3000, because there were 5000 bids to achieve that price. Wow, these guys are making a lot of money in terms of % markup!
The bidding session gets prolonged by ~10 seconds each time a bid is made in the last seconds. Basically, it seems to me that the winner is the person in the pool of bidders that has not exhausted his prepaid bids or otherwise given up.
Since one can see the bidder with the top bid in real-time as the end-game bidding occurs, perhaps one could game it, observing the timeseries of bids each participant has placed and come up with a view on likelihood of having reached their bidding limit. At that point one would start testing by putting in a bid and determine who is left.
If the gaming commission understood what they are doing here, suspect they would have to get a gambling license. Interesting “not-quite-a-scam” business concept. I have to think that eventually most participants, not having won anything will discontinue with the site.