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Living on Bitcoin: Where the Currency Can (And Can’t) Take You in the World of Online Gambling

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The exciting innovation is taking the tech world by storm. For all you online gamblers, its important to know what the virtual currency can and can’t buy.

The virtual currency known as Bitcoin has been pasted all over the tech and financial news for the past year and a half. Most of the attention is due to controversy surrounding the bankruptcies of Bitcoin exchanges (banks, essentially) MtGox and Flexcoin, the attempts of numerous governments to regulate the mysterious currency and Warren Buffet’s vocal opposition to use of it.

This piece will cover none of that. What it will do, is tell online gamblers exactly what Bitcoins can and can’t do for them.

Trailblazer: The First Site to Accept Bitcoin

• In January 2014 Vera&John became the first licensed online casino to accept deposits in Bitcoin; it was soon followed by Zynga and Big Fish Gaming

• Most major international casino and betting sites have chosen not to accept Bitcoin

• As the market is just being created, most options are with hard currency sites like Bet365, Bodog and All Slots

Vera&John became the first licensed online casino to accept deposits in Bitcoin earlier this year. Players could deposit Bitcoin which would the site would then automatically convert to Euro at current exchange rates. When cashing out, the player’s Euros are reconverted into virtual currency (no, you can’t use these sites to convert Bitcoins into hard currency).

Vera&John would exchange virtual/physical currency in real time, so it never actually held Bitcoins, therefore not exposing itself to risk. Vera&John’s climbing aboard the Bitcoin bandwagon made serious gambling news, as the Malta-licensed site is viewed as an industry leader worldwide.

The innovative casino gave the following statement when announcing that it would accept virtual currency:

Vera and John continuously challenges the status quo to find better ways to deliver a truly innovative, unique, and bespoke product to our players. We listen to what our players want while embracing technological advances.

The followers

Once Vera&John started accepting deposits in Bitcoin others followed suit. Some notables include Zynga, a developer of social as well as real-money online and mobile casino games. Zynga decided to hedge their bets by accepting the virtual currency only for select games on their site. This allowed them to test the waters while the innovative form of payment works out its kinks.

Big Fish Games followed Zynga and announced in March 2014 that it would also accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. By contrast, it dove in head-first and gave users the opportunity to play any and all of its games with virtual currency.

In addition to these big names, some “Bitcoin only” sites have popped up in the iGaming world. The most notable is Betcoin Casino, which offers players everything from 3D slots to blackjack, baccarat, poker and sports betting.

Another of the Bitcoin-only sites rising in popularity is mBit, which offers blackjack and slots as well as live dealer games. While these sites are popular with many who like the convenience of paying with a Bitcoin wallet rather than bank account or credit card, others are wary of their relatively unregulated nature.

The negative Nancys

Now to those who have opted to steer clear from the Bit-craze. Unsurprisingly, the majority of major online casinos and online sportsbooks in Britain, Canada and worldwide accept deposits only in hard currency. Combing the internet, you’ll find a lot more who don’t accept Bitcoin than who do.

Some major sites have flirted with accepting virtual currency, but as of now have stuck to their old-fashioned ways. And the reasons are simple.

These are established sites with large long-term customer bases. They serve primarily ordinary gamblers who know little about Bitcoin, so have little reason to take the risk of accepting wagers in it.

Where to take your Bitcoins

The market still has a lot of room for growth, and their currently aren’t a ton of options available for Bitcoin users. As mentioned above, most of the major international online casinos and betting sites accept deposits only in hard currency.

In addition to that, Vera&John disappointed many in the Bitcoin community when it announced in April that it was suspending acceptance of the virtual currency. Why?

The answer supplied by company representatives was vague, but it seems due to the volatility of the currency’s exchange rate. Bitcoins now trade for around $450 per after a high about $1200 per in December 2013.

Vera&John has stated that it will resume use of virtual currency in the future if a stable regulatory system is created and exchange rate volatility is worked out.

That is one fewer option which was available to online gamblers, but Zynga and Big Fish Casino remain great Bitcoin-friendly providers. Big Fish offers a great range of innovative social and real-money games, and accepts Bitcoin for each of them.

Many great options for hard currency gamblers

The best advice we could give to a prospective virtual currency gambler is to be cautious and wait things out. The market is in its infancy. Later in 2014 or early 2015 there will either be a lot more options available or a lot fewer. The former if things go smoothly with the virtual currency, the latter if they don’t go so smoothly.

For those waiting for an upswing or those more comfortable with doing things the old-fashioned way, there are tons of great online casinos out there taking wagers in US dollars, British pounds and Euros. Some casino and sports betting sites we recommend are Bet365, Bodog, All Slots and BetVictor, among countless others.

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