Bitcoin has become a popular banking option with gamblers the last couple of years.
There are several reasons why. Bitcoin comes with perks you won’t get with any other banking option. Americans can use them without prejudice, too.
Anyway, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with bitcoin – how it works, why you might use it to gamble online, and all the benefits you get for doing so. All you want to know now is where to find the best sites.
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And for everyone else – below we’re going to dive into bitcoin. Keep reading to learn what bitcoin is, how to get started with it, and what to expect when you sign up to a gambling site that accepts bitcoin for payment.
Let’s start with the basics. Like, what is bitcoin?
Bitcoin was published in 2009. The process of how they’re created (“mined”) is difficult and lengthy to explain. But, here’s the basic version:
Bitcoins are created as a reward for recording processed payments to a public ledger. Users are paid with transaction fees and newly created bitcoins. This is called “mining.”
There are 25 bitcoins to a “block” – which are created at the rate of one block every 10 minutes. This was cut in half (to 12.5 bitcoins to a block) in late 2016, and will continue in a similar manner (being cut in half) until all the bitcoins are mined – a total of 21 million bitcoins. It’s estimated this will be completed by 2140.
Since there’s only so many bitcoins – the supply is finite – there’s a demand for it. And because of that, today, it’s value is $540 per bitcoin. A few years ago it was valued north of $1,000. Experts say it’s an extremely volatile investment – about 7x more than gold, and 18x more than the American dollar.
This is important to understand, not only so you can make educated investments, but so that there’s no shock if you make a deposit today, only to find out tomorrow that it’s valued at $200, $500 or $1,000. The (current) value may very well play a role in when or if you make a deposit or withdrawal.
Each one will (probably) be similar enough. You’ll create an account. Then you can buy bitcoin using one of dozens of accepting banking methods.
You can also buy them directly from other bitcoin owners. This is a bit riskier to do because of charge backs.
A charge back is a much more aggressive type of refund where you complain about a merchant – essentially saying they stole from you or didn’t deliver what you paid for – and your money is (often) returned pending an investigation.
One of the problems with bitcoin is that there’s nothing tangible – nothing physical – to show for your money. It’s easy to say you didn’t receive what you paid for when you really did. It’s easy to rip people off. So, don’t be surprised if people are hesitant to sell you bitcoin directly.
From here you’ll need a place to store your bitcoins – a wallet. Many exchanges double as wallets. But if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to get one.
There are different types, ranging from beginner friendly to tech savvy. I’d recommend beginners check out an online or cloud-based wallet. This is the easiest to manage. And many wallets will back up your bitcoins for you so you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself.
(Side note: Bitcoins are sort of like computer data – you can lose them if they’re not backed up and something, like a power outage, happens.)
You can find a list of bitcoin wallets, their pros and cons, and technical levels, here. You’ll also notice that some wallets are compatible with various mobile devices, which is handy if you want to gamble while on the road.
There are lots of benefits to using bitcoin. Since many, if not most of them especially apply to online gambling, those are the perks I’ll focus on.
In no particular order…
Pretty great, right?!
Now you just need to find a site to join.
There are two different types of sites that accept bitcoin. There’s not an official name – but I refer to them as “bitcoin-exclusive” and “hybrid” sites.
Let’s look at examples of both and how they work.
These are “normal” gambling sites that have started accepting bitcoin as a banking. These sites have existed for years, some decades, accepting your usual forms of fiat currency.
Two good examples include 5Dimes and Bodog.
The biggest difference between these sites and bitcoin-exclusive sites is that hybrid sites accept bitcoin – BUT – they operate entirely using fiat currency (like USD, AUD or CAD).
What they do is accept your deposit in bitcoin, then convert the funds to the currency of your/their choice. All the games you play and bets you make will be in that (fiat) currency.
You still get many of the same perks that come from using bitcoin. You can make relatively large deposits and your (bitcoin) funds are transferred fast. Plus, Americans don’t have to deal with any banking hassles.
However, there are some downsides to going this route:
The downsides sort of ruin some of the perks you might be gunning for. And it’s for that reason that you might instead opt to join a bitcoin-exclusive site instead.
These are sites that – unlike 5Dimes or Bodog – operate only with bitcoin. They accept bitcoin deposits. You play games in bitcoin. You get cashed out by bitcoin.
Going this route means you’ll get many, if not ALL the perks that come with bitcoin gambling. For example:
I actually forgot a benefit.
One additional benefit (to playing at bitcoin-exclusive sites) are the house odds. They’re often MUCH BETTER than sites that don’t operate exclusively in bitcoin. The difference can be as much as 1-2%. This is a big deal when you talk about games with house odds of less than 5%.
Outside of that, you can expect the rooms to operate in the same way, only in bitcoin.
For example, many bitcoin-exclusive sites offer promos – like getting a free bitcoin or two, which is like getting a $500 or $1,000 bonus.
One example comes from Bit Casino. They’re doing a 110% deposit bonus. Then after that they have a 50% reload bonus up to 1 BTC. And after that a 25% match on your third.
You’ll have to “play-through” the bonus, too, just like you’d have to at a normal online casino. You do that by playing games for real money.
You’re in for a total shock here.
You’ll have the same games and betting options as you have at a regular online casino. That means you can play or bet on things like:
But outside of the “normal” stuff, there are a few things worth pointing out.
For one thing, there are lots of games not available in your standard online casino. I think many of these games are popular with bitcoin because they’re “provably fair” games.
For example, you can play games like:
Okay, I’m done teasing. Let’s go over what provably games are. Here’s a good explanation from ProvablyFair.org:
The general idea is that you can input a number into their algorithm, then hit the deal button and play a round. Then afterward you can look at the results – the algorithm’s output – to check for your number to ensure the game was/is fair.
Provably fair gaming is available for many games including dice, slots, roulette, video poker, blackjack, scratch games, and so on.
It’s not always an option, namely with hybrid bitcoin casinos. But it’s not necessary, either, IF you join a legit gambling site. If anything it’s just sort of cool to play with.
Provably fair is far easier to understand when you play one of these games firsthand. You can do that at most of the trusted bitcoin casinos.
There you have it – bitcoin and bitcoin gambling. In a nutshell, anyway.
But I bet you’re wondering – should I use bitcoin? Is it better, for gambling, at least?
And that’s hard to say. Here’s how I see it.
If you don’t have a problem with the banking options your casino offers, the limits or the time it takes to make a deposit or withdrawal – or you’re risk-averse – then there’s probably no reason to get involved with bitcoin.
But if you’re curious …don’t mind risks associated with bitcoin (the value fluctuating day-to-day) …are tired of banking delays, runarounds or declines …then maybe you should check bitcoin out. If even only by buying a few dollars’ worth.
There’s really no right or wrong answer – just what’s right or wrong for you. And there’s no hurry, either. Bitcoin’s here to stay – for now, anyway.