Bitcoin is a word you are likely to hear a lot in the online world. Since its inception, the digital currency has soared in terms of usage and popularity, and it didn’t take long for the currency to make its way to the online casino market.
There is still only a relatively small list of casinos which accept Bitcoin as a currency, due to the perceived complications of allowing players to deposit via Bitcoin, but with the number increasing as the reputation of the digital currency strengthens, it is likely that you will start to see more casinos offering this currency as a payment method in the not too distant future.
Before we examine how Bitcoin casinos work, let’s have a look at Bitcoin itself, and how it became a part of online life for many people.
Bitcoin was created in 2009 as a result of an idea set out in a 2008 white paper by Satoshi Nakamoto, an alias created by the digital currency’s mysterious founder and creator.
The true identity of Nakamoto is still unknown. An announcement by Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright in 2016 that stated he was in fact the illusive Satoshi Nakamoto, but his statements were met with immediate scepticism and few take his claims seriously, due in no small part to the online community finding numerous holes within Wright’s story. After claiming he could provide proof (“extraordinary proof” at that) Wright fell silent.
Strangely, it could be argued that Wright’s sudden disappearance makes him more likely to be the enigmatic founder. In the few years after he first brought Bitcoin to the online market, Nakamoto was a regular voice on forums and sent many e-mails to various people and organisations, but after a post in 2011 stating that he had moved away from Bitcoin and “on to other things” he was not heard of again, and his identity is likely to remain unknown.
Bitcoin was created with the intention of lowering transaction fees, and operating under a decentralised authority, a different approach to the government-issued currencies that had been all that was available before.
Bitcoin found rapid success in the online community, and the total Bitcoin (BTC) currently in circulation is valued at well over $5 million, possibly closer to $10 million.
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, there are no physical Bitcoin units, all trade and ownership of Bitcoin is online. Balances are kept on an online public ledger, which is verified by complex and safe technology, as are all transactions that take place involving the currency.
As Bitcoin is not issued or seen as viable by any banks or governments, making it not official legal tender, one may assume that the currency is not taken seriously, but this is far from the case.
Bitcoin has been so successful, with the value of a single Bitcoin unit rising at a high speed since its inception ($1,223 in April 2017, up from $770 just a few months earlier, in late 2016), that many other virtual currencies, such as Altcoin, have launched as a direct result of Bitcoin’s success.
Security is ensured as Bitcoin balances are kept using a combination of public and private keys, which are long lists of numbers and letters that are linked through the algorithm they were created by.
The use of peer-to-peer technology to allow for instant payments makes Bitcoin different from the majority of digital currencies, and also explains why the currency has got the attention of the online casino world.
There are some casinos that transact exclusively in Bitcoin, but it is far more common to find an online casino which accepts Bitcoin alongside a variety of more traditional payment methods.
Most online casinos that offer Bitcoin payments offer the same options and opportunities to Bitcoin players as they do to other players, but often with a smaller list of games. Bitcoin can be used for casino games including slots and table games, sports betting, online lotteries, and spread betting, amongst several other forms of online gambling.
It is normally easy to spot a Bitcoin casino, due to the fact that offering Bitcoin is about as close as this highly competitive industry gets to a niche, most online casinos which are friendly to Bitcoin players will suggest it in their name (bitzino, bc-casino.com, BitLotto, satoshibet, etc.) but this is not always the case, so it is worth researching Bitcoin friendly casinos if you intend to use this payment method for online casino play.
Most Bitcoin casinos, especially those which only accept Bitcoin payments, operate on their own gaming software that they have developed, although smaller casinos may use existing versions, which are often altered and customised to be unique to that casino.
The software handles the majority of the operations, with very little human intervention, which reduces the risk of human error.
Where non-Bitcoin casinos may offer a Live Dealer option on games, Bitcoin Casinos will normally have the software acting as the dealer.
If you are looking for a Bitcoin friendly casino to play at, put in research beforehand. This should be simple enough, because Bitcoin casinos understand the doubts that people may have about the safety of the online currency, and the safety of the software involved. As a result, most, if not all trustworthy Bitcoin casinos will be open about how their software works, and what algorithms are at play.
If you find a casino that offers Bitcoin payments, but is secretive about the software involved, then this is probably a site that is worth avoiding.
Bitcoin is still catching up in terms of the amount of games that are on offer. Although most game types that are on offer for players who pay with better known currencies are also available at Bitcoin casinos, there are often more limited varieties within them. Although there is more software constantly being developed, meaning that the list of available games at Bitcoin casinos keeps on growing at a rapid rate.
At this point, poker is the most popular game at Bitcoin casinos, possibly because of the simplicity of its structure, and the fact that the player controls the outcome far more than in more random games, perhaps aiding with the comfort of players when it comes to feeling safe during casino play.
Bitcoin has absolutely flown in terms of popularity since its launch, and especially in the last couple of years, and as a result, Bitcoin casinos are also enjoying a surge.
The biggest advantage that tempts users to Bitcoin (and therefore to Bitcoin friendly casinos) is anonymity. As proven by the fact that even the inventor of the currency’s identity is not known, players who pay with Bitcoin can keep their identity to themselves, which is something many players appreciate, although this may lead other players to be hesitant to trust casinos that offer this payment method.
Some other advantages are very tempting to the online casino market specifically. For example, most Bitcoin casinos will not charge transaction fees and allow for unlimited daily transactions without charge. Considering that most traditional online casinos don’t only charge fees on every transaction, but also have limits, the difference with Bitcoin appeals to a certain type of online casino player.
There is also something of an underground reason as to why Bitcoin casinos are popular.
Online casino games have always operated somewhat under the radar of authorities (although increased regulation is slowly putting an end to this) but certain tweaks to the rules of games that may be appreciated by some players, are not legal when playing with traditional currency. However, these rules do not stand for those playing in Bitcoin, due to it not being considered a legal tender, meaning that games that would be illegal at regular sites, are readily available to play at Bitcoin casinos.
The lack of regulation on Bitcoin casinos is far from all good news to players. The anonymity of players makes fair practice less likely, and there is nothing to guarantee that the games that are being offered are fair and random. There is nothing stopping an unfair card distribution being given out in a poker game in a Bitcoin casino for example, and complaining would be difficult even if laws were in place, because the guaranteed anonymity of Bitcoin makes it hard for players to state that they have been scammed by a casino.
However, anonymity is clearly something that is appreciated by the online gambling community, as proven by the claim that daily Bitcoin transactions quintupled on the launch of SatoshiDice.com. This makes it necessary to wonder why gamblers would want anonymity, and when you consider it, that is a question that brings very few reassuring answers.
Bitcoin casinos often do not check the age of their players, nor their location, in fact, in most cases, an e-mail address and login name will be enough, and as it is not difficult to create an e-mail address specifically for this purpose, this makes it difficult to trace the identity of players.
Bitcoin casinos, therefore, make it substantially easier for players in areas in which online gambling is illegal (such as many US states) as the limited amount of necessary personal details, along with a simple proxy server, can allow for illegal gambling which is virtually untraceable.
This is a concern for authorities, as the Bitcoin economy runs parallel to the global economy as opposed to being a part of it, making regulation complex.
While Bitcoin clearly has its appeal, allowing for one to trade and purchase products and services online anonymously, and away from the regulation of the global market, there are obvious and apparent risks, especially to those with a limited understanding of how Bitcoin works.
There is very little information available on Bitcoin, meaning that it is difficult to know what has an impact on the value of the currency, and there are many ways in which advantage can be taken due to the copious loopholes that Bitcoin allows for.
This means that although Bitcoin casinos are obviously tempting for numerous reasons, it is necessary to always tread with care, put in copious amounts of research before signing up to anything, and make sure that you are always aware of the risks you are taking in playing at online casinos that allow Bitcoin.
One assumes that in time more regulations will be put in place, especially given the rise in casinos that accept Bitcoin, but until more is known in terms of how such casinos operate, and how they will be regulated going forward, it may be worth swerving this particular way of playing for the time being.