The gambling sector has long been at the forefront of pioneering new technologies. Particularly as far as online casinos are concerned, there’s a competitive pressure to stay ahead of the field, and this lends casinos who constantly adapt and adopt new innovations an advantage over the competition. In recent years, the rise of bitcoin gambling has become a significant considerations for casinos who want to stay one step ahead of the crowd. As digital currencies become more established and progressively more mainstream with each passing year, the levels of interest amongst both casinos and their players for gambling in bitcoin show no signs of abating.
Indeed, far from it. For many players, bitcoin represents the official currency of the internet, and one of the most effective instruments for depositing and withdrawing from their bankroll. Thanks to the unique features of bitcoin transactions, players worldwide are finding it a more secure, more convenient way to gamble.
At the same time, casinos need to be live to this demand. Even beyond traditional online casinos, sportsbooks, poker rooms and other service providers are extending their services to include bitcoin, in recognition of the growth and development in this market. But what’s behind the rise to prominence of this new technology, and what’s in it for both casinos and players who choose bitcoin over more established, time-tested payment methods?
Bitcoin is distinct from other forms of online transactions, like payment wallets, for example. While services like PayPal, and to a greater extent Neteller and Skrill account for many of the quick, convenient payment options preferred by online casino players, bitcoin is not in itself a payment method – rather a currency, like pound sterling or the dollar. But it differs even from those in that there is no physical representation of bitcoin. Each unit of value, rather than a coin or a paper note, is a string of code, a block on a finitely limited ‘chain’ of blocks that is ascribed a value thanks to buy and sell pressures. Like any currency market, the price of bitcoin relative to other currencies can rise or fall in response to supply and demand factors, and with an ever-increasing range of outlets now setup to accept bitcoin payments, it’s becoming easier than ever before to actually put this virtual currency to good use.
One of the core features of bitcoin is its relative privacy. While it is not completely untraceable, bitcoin provides a mechanism for individuals to transact directly with whoever they like, in a time-efficient, cost-efficient way, without revealing any personal information about themselves. At the same time, there’s no need to share sensitive payment information like your card details or your bank account – it’s a straightforward transaction from one wallet to another, and in many respects, this is what lends bitcoin its unique appeal.
Gamblers in the UK have got it easy, to a large extent, and find themselves on the whole with little reason to guard against their identity being linked to gambling transactions. Even so, there are still reasons here why someone may not wish to conduct gambling business through their current account, or through any of their supported payment services. Perhaps you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage and would prefer the bank didn’t analyse your gambling behaviour, or maybe you’re just looking for more discretion than that which i available when you choose to play via your regular accounts.
Beyond the UK’s shores, there are also plenty of reasons players in other jurisdictions might choose privacy as the predominant feature when choosing how to pay. In some countries, it may even be illegal for individuals to gamble, in which case covering your tracks through bitcoin becomes all the more attractive.
But it’s not just privacy, or the direct nature of the transaction that sells bitcoin. Bitcoin speculation is big business, and it is by far and away one of the most volatile and potentially profitable currency markets in the world. As a result, players with holdings in bitcoin can find that their actual bitcoin balance varies in value, with most analysts expected the long-term trend to be upwards. Because bitcoin are limited in nature, and by definition scarce, being in a position to withdraw your winnings in bitcoin means players are actually gambling to increase the size of their investment portfolios – win/win when the going is good.
Casinos can turn this into a major advantage if they are prepared to embrace bitcoin. This isn’t as simple as it looks unfortunately, because casinos have their own calculus to make here. Bitcoin holdings open casinos up to a degree of additional risk in their own right, because they are required to maintain a holding in bitcoin in order to facilitate the payment of withdrawals in this fashion. The values of their bitcoin holdings are subject to the same fluctuations as on the player’s’ side, and while it’s assumed that bitcoin will probably continue to rise in price over the long-term, nothing is certain here.
In order to turn this to their advantage, casinos need to be fast moving to position themselves most effectively for bitcoin gamblers. There are already a number of well established niche services which support bitcoin, either exclusively or alongside their regular roster of payment methods. This is now spreading across the more established players in the market, but it could still take some time for the giants of the industry to get on board. Currently, at PartyCasino we do not have Bitcoin deposit or withdrawal options, however, it could be a method we integrate in the future.
If casinos are able to reach out to new demographics by accepting bitcoin players, it could provide a lucrative new pool of customers. At the same time, the speculative element of bitcoin gives them a chance to doubly profit on their players’ activity, which again, could represent a pretty good deal for most operators.