Online gambling is a global and rapidly growing industry that has nevertheless been hampered by regulatory issues. But as many current Bitcoin casinos have already demonstrated, cryptocurrency would allow the largest industry players to not only improve their services and demonstrate fairness, but also bypass the red tape.
Gambling with bitcoins
In many ways, Bitcoin is the fastest and easiest way to transfer money between 2 parties. Through the use of virtual wallets, QR codes and NFC, funds can be transferred with minimal effort, and in real time. In essence, the technology of Bitcoin is simpler and quicker than traditional banking, which is why it is making waves in the online retail and entertainment industries.
Reputable gambling companies, on the whole, have been slow to react to Bitcoin. On the other hand, there’s a multitude of Bitcoin based gambling sites, such as the popular Satoshi Dice. These Bitcoin gaming sites have proven to be fair and sustainable, as well as profitable for the operators, with Satoshi Dice being one of the older, more established sites.
The interesting thing about Satoshi Dice is that uses a concept of being ‘provably fair’. This means that users can see how the program decided the output of the wager, rather than the outcome being predetermined before the game is played.
This is something that doesn’t currently happen within mainstream online casinos, although they do need to meet certain fairness regulations - but the inner workings of these are never showcased to players.
If Bitcoin only games and slots could be introduced by big online gambling developers, such as Playtech, that would be revolutionary for online gambling and would give gamers the ultimate piece of mind as they could see what caused them to win or lose on each hand, spin, or roll of the dice.
Major players like 32Red, 888 and Betfair do not accept Bitcoin at present, but it would be surprising if they aren’t considering introducing it as a payment method in the future.
To look at how gambling companies could benefit from rolling out Bitcoin as a way for gamers to withdraw and deposit funds, we’ll take a look at 32Red and how using Bitcoin could benefit them.
32Red as a case study
32Red was one of the very first online casinos to be established. Unlike many of its competitors, such as William Hill or Ladbrokes, 32Red has only ever existed within the digital sphere: It does not operate any brick and mortar casinos or betting shops. For a company so digitally orientated, it will be surprising if they don’t at least perform a trial bitcoin roll out - especially after European courts have recognized Bitcoin as bonafide currency.
The online casino has one of the most extensive collections of casino games on the web, including casino classics such as blackjack, roulette and the latest range of slots. Being able to deposit funds via bitcoin would speed up the process of gamers depositing funds, thanks to Bitcoin’s fast and secure transactions.
32Red Roulette is one of the more popular casino games on offer, although the complexity of roulette games can often put beginners off. Roulette has a magnitude of possible bets that can take place, and knowing the odds of which one can be a daunting task.
However, if a gamer has a preferred bet, let’s say 10 euros on black, with Bitcoin technology, there would be no reason why a QR code for this wager couldn’t be generated and simply scanned by the gamer, with the result being the correct amount is automatically bet, with the funds being deposited instantly. The whole process would be near instantaneous and seamless.
If online casinos were to get on board with services such as BitPay, this would allow gamers to not only deposit funds using bitcoin, but it would also allow for the main online casino operators to have these funds automatically converted into USD, GBP or EUR and deposited into their main bank account, removing any risk of bitcoin price fluctuations damaging their profits.
In essence, it’s a win-win, no risk situation.
Online casinos: hotbeds of innovation
Due to the large amount of people who use Bitcoin, and the fact the highest court in Europe has effectively recognized Bitcoin as a genuine currency, Bitcoin will only continue to grow in exposure, increasing the chance that it will be possible to use it on top gaming sites, especially when it is considered that these sites already accept payment in multiple currencies, whether it is GBP, USD or EUR.
There are numerous technologies on the market at the minute that could enhance the experience of gamers, including virtual reality. VR casinos are now a reality, and in time, major Bitcoin casinos could be too. This would give Bitcoin users access to a much wider selection of games that are much more advanced than those currently available. Time will tell if the big gambling companies shift their attention to accepting Bitcoin, but it would make perfect sense if they did.
For example, Russia has some of the strictest anti gambling laws in the world, going so far as to instruct ISPs to block known gambling websites.
Now, given that the act of online gambling is illegal, top gambling sites still cater to the Russian crowd, and in some instances, even have Russian versions of the site. Were these large sites to accept bitcoin, this would make it far easier for people who want to game, but are based in marginalized communities, to do so.
The decentralised nature of Bitcoin means that Russian gamblers wouldn’t need to use a Russian bank account (where illegal activity could easily be detected), with their funds being held in a paper or digital Bitcoin wallet instead.
In essence, through the use of VPN (to access the site if actively banned by an ISP) and Bitcoin, gambling bans around the world could be circumvented, expanding the online gaming market and democratizing the internet.
Given that the internet is a global marketplace, larger gaming websites my want to have a global presence, which may mean being accessible in locations where online gambling has been deemed illegal. The implementation of Bitcoin would allow them to achieve this and provide a reliable gaming service to all locations around the world, regardless of what local laws dictate.
Simply put, the potential for Bitcoin and mainstream gambling sites is huge.
By George Mather