In 2015 Betonline became one of the first online casinos to accept Bitcoin as a payment method but now there are dozens, maybe even more than a hundred different online casinos that use cryptocurrency for deposits and withdrawals. With the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006, it has become increasingly difficult for online operators to service the US market, and many established firms stopped accepting American customers entirely. Companies that do still provide gambling services to American players have been very enthusiastic about the prospect of using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for transactions with their customers because the decentralized nature of these monies enables individuals to evade regulatory barriers. Today over sixty different cryptocurrencies are accepted by America’s Card Room, an online poker, and casino website.
Online gambling establishments powered by Bitcoin include everything from simple dice based games where you bet on whether the roll is going to be over or under a certain amount, to fully fledged online casinos featuring slots, tables and poker against other users. You can even play live dealer table games at Bitcoin casinos, where an actual dealer and gaming table are hooked up to a webcam to create a more authentic experience for the user. Bitcoin casinos also take wagers on sports.
Another reason for the rise in popularity of Bitcoin in gambling transactions is the usurious fees levied by sites on customers making credit card deposits. Players are increasingly hit with fees on both ends, both by the site itself as well as by the credit card companies that view gambling transactions as cash advances, subject to immediately accruing interest and multiple fee schedules. Bitcoin, by comparison, is virtually free to use. Transactions with Bitcoin are also irreversible, so there is a significant degree of protection for the business that is not present with other forms of online payment, such as credit card purchases or Paypal. A merchant knows that once a Bitcoin purchase has reached six confirmations the money is theirs forever. As gambling purchases are frequently subject to fraudulent chargebacks, this is a degree of protection that online casinos welcome eagerly. Credit card purchases are also subject to currency exchange fees which do not exist in the world of cryptocurrencies.
Anonymity has long been a cherished ideal in the gambling community. Unless you are making an extremely large cash transaction in a regular brick and mortar casino, you will rarely be asked to show any identification if you do not appear to be underage. Because of the potential for fraud in online gambling, virtual casinos have always had to verify the identities of their customers and would almost invariably request copies of your photo identification and proof of your address before you were allowed to cash out. These policies were intrusive but necessary to prevent fraudsters from running wild. Because Bitcoin transactions are irreversible, these security measures are ultimately unnecessary and many online casinos that deal only in cryptocurrency are moving away from identity verification and allowing truly anonymous play.
Over the last few years, Bitcoin has been completely changing the landscape of online gambling and creating a more secure and anonymous online gambling experience. The impact of Bitcoin on the online gambling industry is a microcosm of the role Bitcoin is playing in shaping the future of our world, by facilitating global trade, promoting the right to privacy and enabling individuals to bypass unnecessary state intrusion into their wallets and their lives.
Date Published: Wednesday November 29, 2017
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