On Friday, Virtue Gaming, a decentralized online poker platform built on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain, launched the first play-to-earn digital poker casino in the United States.
In the U.S., only six states (Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan) have legalized and currently regulate online poker. The country has been slow to act on the subject due to concerns that international poker platforms would take revenue away from domestic, land-based gambling venues. Moreover, even in the states listed, poker platforms must obtain licenses from each individual jurisdiction to operate.
As a result, U.S. residents typically cannot access popular online poker platforms, such as PokerStars or 888 Poker, available to players in the rest of the world. To solve this issue, Virtue Gaming proposed a play-to-earn setup where the platform gives users 500 Virtual Player Points, or VPP, worth an approximate $147.37 USD.
Players will receive these for free upon signup. Players who meet the minimum playtime requirements via cash games and tournaments can then cash out their VPP for Tether (USDT). U.S. players would then be able to compete with players for the rest of the world, who transfer VPP, Ether (ETH) or other cryptos into Virtue Gaming's locked sidechain smart contracts to stake in the game. To prevent cheating, the platform implements peer-to-peer encrypted shuffling for all decks.
Virtue Poker Casino UI | Source: Virtue Poker
According to legislation, "points or credits that the sponsor of the game or contest provides to participants free of charge and can be used or redeemed only for participation in games or contests offered by the sponsor" fall outside the scope of the legal definition of a bet or wager and could theoretically give the play-to-earn model some regulatory leeway. At the time of publication, there are currently over 25,000 players from outside the U.S. on the platform.