The scenery is constantly changing in the gambling world thanks to advancements in technology and these changes don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Just a few years can make a huge difference in terms of gambling technology, and the latest craze which is sweeping internet gambling sites in the last few years is known as cryptocurrency, or “crypto”.
Crypto can be defined as a digital currency which operates without the use of a central bank. The encryption techniques that cryptocurrencies use help to control how many units are created, verify fund transfers, and also keep the transactions anonymous. These features come in very handy when you are dealing with an internet gambling site, but if you were an online gambler about seven years ago you would not have had the option of using this type of currency for your gambling transactions.
The most popular crypto is certainly Bitcoin since it has the largest market share and the widest usage compared to all of the others. However, due to popular demand, it is not uncommon to see many different cryptos on the list of a gambling site’s banking options, with some sites accepting over 40 of them! Cryptos can be found on poker sites, casino sites, racebooks and sportsbooks alike, but this was not always the case in the salad days.
The first U.S.-regulated online gambling site to accept Bitcoin as a banking option was the horse racing site DerbyJackpot.com in 2015. However, Bitcoin was lurking on underground or unregulated gambling sites ever since 2012 when a site called SatoshiDice began to offer Bitcoin-based betting games. It is noteworthy that most of Bitcoin’s usage was accounted for in the gambling world back in 2012, but it has blossomed into a much more versatile currency since then.
Other popular Bitcoin sites were available back then as well, such as Seals With Clubs and Cloudbet, and they did not accept U.S. dollars at all. These early crypto sites were extremely basic and relatively small, but they were still groundbreaking in their own right and paved the way for the crypto gambling sites that we have today. Thanks to the industry evolving, you now have the option of depositing with either cryptos or real money on many popular U.S.-facing sites such as Bovada or America’s Cardroom.
Crypto Online Casinos
The type of internet gambling site where you will most often find cryptocurrencies as a banking option is definitely online casinos. While you will not find cryptos available in every online casino, it is becoming harder by the day to find those that do not offer at least one of them.
Bitcoin Cash Casinos
Almost all crypto casinos will allow you to deposit in Bitcoin, while two of the most popular secondary options include Ethereum and Litecoin. These three coins all boast a top-5 market cap out of all the coins in the cryptocurrency market, and they are also the only three cryptos available on the most popular crypto wallet known as Coinbase.
Outside of those three main coins, you will occasionally encounter casinos that accept smaller cryptos such as Fortune Jack Casino which accepts Monero or BetOnline Casino which accepts Dash. However, most casinos stick to the basics and don’t try to get fancy with these less popular coins.
It is most common to see crypto casinos that offer both crypto options and real money options. However, there are still some online casinos that ONLY offer crypto banking options, such as Vegas Casino. There are also some online casinos, such as BitDice, coming out soon which only feature an ICO currency known as a token which you have to buy using cryptos.
It is interesting that the online casino market has adapted to the increase in cryptocurrency demand much faster than the sports book market has. There is no reason why this should be the case since both player pools can enjoy the same benefits of this alternate banking option, but the fact still remains that you will find many more crypto casinos than you will find crypto sportsbooks.
Crypto Online Sportsbooks
Even though the online sportsbook industry has evolved slower than casinos doesn’t mean that you can’t find any crypto sportsbooks on the internet. All it means is that your options will be comparatively limited, but there are still plenty of places where you can use cryptos to bet on sports whether you live in the U.S. or not.
Bitcoin Cash Sportsbooks
There are probably a ton of reasons why these sports books were slow to catch on to cryptos surge in popularity, but the main reason is that there is more risk for the owner of these sites. It is also true that the software is more complicated than in an online casino and that managing a sports book which accepts Bitcoin is harder than managing a normal sportsbook.
Almost all crypto sportsbooks are just one part of a very large gambling site that accepts cryptos for their casino or poker room as well. Some great examples of this phenomenon are sites like Bovada and America’s Cardroom. There are not any instances of crypto sports books that are exclusively sportsbooks which handle a ton of volume at this point in time.
Bovada is the sportsbook that is known for leading the way by being the first one to accept Bitcoin payments, but they also accept real money as well. America’s Cardroom soon followed, but they one-upped Bovada by accepting over 40 different cryptos to Bovada’s two. As a sports bettor from the U.S., these are by far your two best options if you are looking to make sports bets in a cryptocurrency.
A pure crypto sports book, such as the one on Vegas Casino, will offer only cryptos as banking options, but these types of sites are pretty rare at the moment as well. These pure crypto sports books are different from the offshore sports books because they usually have faster withdrawals but there is also more risk of the site closing down or running an exit scam since they do not have much to lose. In a pure crypto sportsbook, you are at the mercy of the swings of the price of the crypto that you are betting with, but this means that you will occasionally win money even when you lose a bet on a game if the currency booms during that time.
Crypto Online Poker
Crypto poker sites may not be as prevalent as crypto casinos, but they still enjoy a reasonably high level of popularity today. The very first crypto poker site was called Seals With Clubs which was founded in August 2011 by a small group of poker players after Black Friday took away most of U.S. players’ options for poker sites to play on at the time.
Unfortunately, Seals With Clubs had some legal troubles and they left the U.S. market in 2015, but this was not the end of crypto poker in the U.S. America’s Cardroom opened up a Bitcoin-only poker skin known as Betcoin in 2013, but that one was unfortunately shut down as well in December of 2017.
Some of the larger crypto poker sites for U.S. players such as Bovada, BetOnline, and America’s Cardroom have both cryptocurrencies and real money banking options available. However, the smaller crypto poker sites such as Coin Poker almost always deal exclusively in cryptos.
You can still deposit onto the poker room of America’s Cardroom using one of over 40 different cryptocurrencies even though their Betcoin skin is no longer in service. Bovada has been accepting Bitcoin for a couple of years now and they also started accepting Bitcoin Cash in 2017. BetOnline allows you to deposit into their poker room using Bitcoin, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, or Ethereum. All of the cryptocurrencies on these three sites will be converted to dollars or your local fiat currency before you can play poker.
Pure crypto poker sites which deal only in cryptos will generally reward you with 1000 chips for every crypto coin you deposit, and you then play poker with those chips. The rake in the games on crypto poker sites is known to be lower than usual at times, especially with newcomer Coin Poker flaunting a very low 4.5% maximum rake on each cash game pot. All you have to do to play on this site is buy some of the ICO tokens named CHP using Ethereum and you can then play poker with those tokens.
Hopefully, more of these pure crypto poker sites will pop up in the future because they generally feature softer competition. The innovative nature of these sites also help to push the frontier of the online poker world into new territories and the results of these types of movements could potentially benefit everyone.
Crypto Online Gambling Transactions
No matter what type of gambling site you are playing on, crypto transactions will be superior to many of the other banking options that are available. A growing number of gambling sites are offering cryptocurrencies on their list of banking options and if this trend continues then every site will offer them within just a couple of years.
One of the main reasons for this rise in popularity is the speed that these transactions are processed. If an online gambling site facilitates crypto transfers, then there is an extremely high chance that this banking option is the fastest method they have. However, not all coins move at the same speed due to network congestion and other issues. For example, Ethereum transactions tend to move faster than Bitcoin transactions do since the confirmation process is much quicker.
The digital nature of cryptos means that this currency allows the entire globe to access it with easy availability. This is why Bitcoin advertises that they facilitate “borderless payments” and this feature helps players of any country to deposit money onto gambling sites anonymously without having to go through their bank.
Another reason that crypto transactions are preferable when dealing with a gambling site is that the maximum transaction limits are usually higher than the other banking options. One of the only banking options that can give Bitcoin any competition in this department is a bank wire, but these wires can take weeks to complete and usually charge a high fee.
The fees that are charged by gambling sites when using cryptocurrencies are usually non-existent, which is a huge advantage over the rest of the banking options on some sites. Even when you do come across a site that charges fees for crypto transactions it will normally only be a 2% fee or less. Whether this fee is imposed on crypto deposits or crypto withdrawal varies from site to site, but most of the time it will be charged when you deposit.
Risk of Anonymity at Cryptocurrency Casinos
We already mentioned the fact that one of the benefits of using cryptos to fund your online gambling accounts is that you can do so anonymously. Even though your bank account is tied to your Bitcoin wallet, your Bitcoin addresses are not tied to your identity and the transaction data is transmitted using nodes which cannot detect IP addresses.
However, the features that allow us to enjoy this benefit of anonymity also bring some risks along with them as well. One of the main problems that can occur is that a hacker could gain access to your private keys or your crypto wallet log-in information through phishing attacks. They could also gain access to your crypto wallet through fake cryptocurrency apps which have been popping up recently such as the fake Poloniex app in the Google Play store. Once they have access to this information and send all of your cryptos to themselves, there is really no way to get your money back due to the anonymous nature of transactions.
Unfortunately, hackers are not the only ones that you need to watch out for when you are using cryptos to handle your transactions on pure crypto gambling sites. Under the cover of anonymity, these sites can easily steal your cryptos from your account or simply not honor your withdrawal requests and you will have no recourse. In a normal casino, you could just do a chargeback on your credit card, but on crypto sites, there is currently no such luxury for the internet gambler.
Protecting Yourself with Crypto Gambling Sites
In light of all of the risks that come along with crypto transactions, we recommend that you follow a few simple steps to protect yourself from becoming a victim of those various unfortunate cybercrimes. It is already enough of a gamble to risk your money in games of chance without also risking your winnings from these games by not protecting yourself to the best of your ability.
The most important step that you need to take before you gamble online with cryptos is to do your research on the site that you are about to gamble on. At the bottom of every gambling website, there should be an emblem that represents which gaming authority they are licensed by. These emblems are usually hyperlinks that will show you more information about the license if you click on them. Any site that has no license emblem at the bottom is not fully licensed and comes with some extra risk involved since no one is watching over them. Some of the most popular gaming licenses that you will find are the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, and Curacao eGaming.
After you find a reliable and licensed gambling site that offers what you want, you are still going to need to take some security precautions to protect your cryptos that are sitting in your crypto wallet. The most popular security measure that you will come across is known as 2-factor Authentication or 2FA. When this feature is enabled, you will need to enter a special code that was texted to your cell phone before you can gain access to your crypto wallet account. An even safer form of 2FA is when they require you to download a special app to receive this authentication code on a specific device since text messages can be easily intercepted by some hackers.
Another way to protect yourself efficiently is to keep your casino crypto account balance at a minimum and put the rest of it into a hardware wallet, such as a Trezor. These offline wallets are the safest way to store your coins since they keep all of the key data in a protected place and they are immune to hacking attempts.
Crypto Online Casino Regulations
The legal landscape involving cryptocurrencies has been a gray area in most countries ever since their inception. When it comes to gambling with cryptos, the regulations are extremely unclear and constantly changing which can lead to both positive and negative outcomes for online gamblers, depending on which country they live in.
While Bitcoin appears to be gaining in popularity all over the world, there has been some recent news involving countries that are making moves to restrict or ban cryptocurrency trading. South Korea recently banned anonymous bank accounts from being used to buy cryptocurrencies, but their citizens are allowed to use their own bank accounts to trade. China has decided to stomp out the cryptomarket completely by banning any and all Bitcoin-related websites.
On the bright side of things, many countries are doing everything they can to regulate Bitcoin and make it a commonplace currency. The European Union has been drafting legislation ever since early 2017 to regulate cryptos with their only real concern being that people will use the anonymity to launder money. Even so, you will be hard-pressed to find Bitcoin as an option at this point in time on many of the online casinos that are licensed by major European authorities such as the United Kingdom Gambling Commission or the Malta Gaming Authority.
In the U.S., cryptocurrencies are currently only available on the unregulated gambling sites such as Bovada or America’s Cardroom. There have even been some pure crypto gambling sites such as Seals With Clubs whose operation was halted after the founder was served a warrant at gunpoint by the police from the Nevada Gambling Commission. The government regulated gambling sites in states such as Nevada and New Jersey have not yet embraced cryptocurrency as a banking method, but it seems like it is only a matter of time before they join the party.