When I was in college, my brother and I debated buying some Bitcoin. At the time they were valued somewhere around $20. It seemed way too expensive to purchase. How naive we were! The price of a
single coin now tends to hover around $10,000.
Bitcoin, in its early days, felt like little more than Monopoly money. It was a fascinating concept, but one that felt better suited to a sci-fi novel than any practical use. Turns out, that
“Monopoly money” could’ve made a significant return on investment if I had been a little less shy of acquiring a couple of coins.
Fast forward to today, and the cryptocurrency landscape is shifting. Since those early days, the price has grown with a consistency nobody expected. Sure, tracking the rise and fall of Bitcoin’s
value can be unpredictable at times. As with any currency, there are some hiccups and fluctuations, but for the time being, Bitcoin’s popularity is growing
Bitcoin overall is still something of a niche interest, but its global hype and rise in value have placed it firmly in the mainstream chatter. We aren’t quite yet buying delivery pizza with
Bitcoin regularly, but as a culture, we’re getting closer to that reality.
Naturally, Las Vegas is taking an interest in Bitcoin as well. Bitcoin ATMs are slowly cropping up around the city. While most casinos are still wary of the currency’s volatility, more and more
are shifting to a Bitcoin-friendly stance. Chief among these locations are the Golden Gate and The D. So far, these are the only two spots that accept Bitcoin as payment for services.
Located off The Strip in downtown Las Vegas, The D Casino Hotel is one of the first two casinos to have a Bitcoin ATM on their floor. Before I let you get too excited, let me point out that you
can’t gamble directly with Bitcoin yet. I know, it isn’t quite the sci-fi Vegas future you were hoping for, but there’s still some utility to having Bitcoin at The D.
While you can’t use your coin directly at the table, their on-site ATM does provide a selling function. This means you can sell some of your Bitcoin for real, physical cash. You’ll have to deal
with some sizable transaction fees, but if you’re looking to change your Bitcoin into a bettable currency, this is the way to do it.
This doesn’t match the convenience or fantasy of betting directly with your digital wallet at a table, but it does mean you have a quick turnaround for selling some Bitcoin for some hard cash.
For those of you early investors out there, it’s certainly a favorable circumstance. This is merely the only way to take advantage of Bitcoin’s crazy exchange rate for gambling outside of online
The day where you can use a digital wallet to ante up is still a ways off. This is down to the sticky, stringent regulation around gambling. I’ll dig into that in more detail in just a bit. That
being said, The D does accept Bitcoin in restaurant and front desk transactions. This means you can at least get a room and a meal at The D’s restaurants with your new-age cryptocurrency.
Golden Gate is managed by the same group as The D, so the deal is more or less the same here. Just as before, you cannot use Bitcoin on the casino floor, but you can make use of the ATM to do
Outside of the ATM use, Golden Gate is slightly less friendly to Bitcoin than The D. The front desk is the only area that accepts Bitcoin. You can’t snag dinner for Bitcoin like you can at The D.
Still, it’s only one of two places in the whole city that will let you pay for a room with Bitcoin.
There’s a good chance that Golden Gate will expand the range of services Bitcoin can pay for. Derek Stevens — the CEO of the management group that owns both hotels accepting Bitcoin — has said
business has seen an uptick since accepting Bitcoin. The hardcore Bitcoin loyalists are a dedicated group, and they’ve shown their appreciation for Golden Gate and The D’s liberal policy on Bitcoin.
Why Gamble With Bitcoin?
I’m sure some of you are still wondering: why would I want to gamble with Bitcoin? Well, if you got in on the ground floor and are flush with
digital currency, the answer is obvious. You want to take advantage of that crazy exchange rate! For the rest of us less savvy investors, the answer is a little more complicated.
In many ways, Bitcoin is a gambler’s dream come true. Since Bitcoin isn’t relying on any government backing, it’s more immune to government regulation than any other currency. Simply put, if you
run an online Bitcoin casino, you can write your own rules freely.
As an American, if I’m looking to bet online, there’s a good chance my deposit transactions will be denied. The legal ground around American online gambling is too shaky for most sites to accept
the risk of letting Americans gamble.
Why Don’t More Casinos Accept Bitcoin?
For casinos to start adopting Bitcoin, they’ll need to see an advantage in it. Bitcoin may just provide that.
For casinos, Bitcoin offers a tremendous opportunity to move away from cash dependence. Nearly 95% of all casino revenue flow comes from physical cash on hand. Apparently, this makes regulation
and complying with the law a considerable headache. Casinos are desperate for a medium of exchange that doesn’t involve physical handling.
Bitcoin can naturally alleviate some of that headache and dispose of the need for hands-on money management.
However, there isn’t a concrete model for how to regulate Bitcoin yet. In the US notably, it’s not
a black-and-white issue. This means that gaming regulators are reluctant to approve Bitcoin gambling. The anonymity of Bitcoin creates a lot of questions. How do you accurately and
efficiently regulate a currency that completely shields both sides of a transaction?
The Nevada gaming board says it’s looking for higher demand by casino operators for legalized Bitcoin betting and greater assurances that regulation will be followed through. Given how casinos
are eager to move on from physical currency, the demand should indeed grow.
Also, Bitcoin provides an enticement to younger, more tech-oriented audiences. Las Vegas’ tech-savvy downtown area (where The D and Golden Gate happen to be located) certainly has a
Bitcoin-friendly vibe. As the state looks to extract money from younger visitors, Bitcoin could tempt more business their way.
The Future of Casinos and Bitcoin
I’d say we’re still several years out, at least, from being able to tap a digital wallet on the blackjack table for your next bet. That being said, the entire concept of Bitcoin seemed impossible
not so long ago, so that day may come sooner than expected. Other countries, like Malta, are much closer to greenlighting Bitcoin betting at casinos.
If things pan out well for the countries that do legalize Bitcoin gambling, it’s possible the US could follow suit. International regulation can have a domino effect when its implemented well. If
other countries see a return on allowing Bitcoin gambling, it’ll be one step closer to Nevada looking into their possibilities.
As space-age as it may seem now, gambling directly with Bitcoin may still be on the horizon for Las Vegas.