Bitcoin has been wildly successful among gamblers and online gambling. What’s remarkable is that Bitcoin’s potential for online casinos started showing even before 2013, when the cryptocurrency was met with success in global markets. But what is it that makes Bitcoin so appealing to people in this industry?
The fact that Bitcoin lacks a central authority is one of its core virtues. Nobody can regulate it effectively. This has allowed for developers to experiment with use cases that weren’t possible or even “legal” with conventional means of payments. Anyone can program Bitcoin and the lack of regulation for it serves like a free pass to limitless creativity.
Not only is Bitcoin too difficult regulators to touch, but its decentralized system and infrastructure are tamper proof when it comes to malicious intervention by third parties. Put simply, if regulators and authorities tried to undermine the businesses involved with Bitcoin gambling, users would remain unaffected as Bitcoin casinos would find ways to avoid regulation.
On the technical side, fast transactions and minimal fees make Bitcoin ideal for easily accessible gambling. This along with the fact that Bitcoin transactions are truly irreversible makes it a great tool for both players and online casinos. Whereas players using conventional payment means would have to fund several accounts and wait for sometimes slow and expensive transactions to clear, occasionally even having to pay fees on their profits for ‘fraud prevention’ due to widespread credit card risks with gambling.
Moreover, Bitcoin transactions are not associated with a name. Bitcoin’s ability to enable anonymous financial transactions spawned several platforms that made use of that feature. Anonymous gambling had never been so accessible prior to cryptocurrency.
When did online casinos fall in love with Bitcoin?
Although there were some early examples of Bitcoin-enabled gambling like Satoshi Dice and bitZino, adoption from mainstream online casinos didn’t really take off until well after Bitcoin came into the spotlight.
Something changed back in 2013, the outlook of the financial crisis wasn’t good and many people that were already looking for alternative investments stumbled upon Bitcoin. Bitcoin usage went parabolic when the price hit $100 in April 2013, only for that to be topped off several years later with an all time high of ~$20,000.
In the meantime, another thing that skyrocketed was demand for ways to use Bitcoin without having to exchange it. As Bitcoin had also proved to be a great speculative tool there was a lot of demand for fully-fledged gambling as well. Traffic to the already-existing casinos that supported Bitcoin exploded, and for a time, it seemed as though new operators were being launched every day.
The excitement of the developer community back then gave way to experimentation with Bitcoin by online casinos and several were met with major success. At least a couple of Bitcoin casinos that had a humble launch back in 2013, gradually built up trust and have since had hundreds of millions in dollars wagered on their platforms.
The “rollout” of provable fairness
Satoshi Dice was an early pioneer in the Bitcoin casino industry. It featured a single game, Bitcoin dice, which the gambling community quickly fell in love with.
The idea was simple, roll some digital dice and win or lose based on the outcome. While the game was groundbreaking in its simplicity, it was the features that got players excited. Users could set the odds as they liked, change their bets from fractions of a penny to thousands of dollars and “roll the dice” as fast as they could send their Bitcoin transactions (back then, Satoshi Dice took “on-chain” bets).
Most importantly though, it was the low house edge and provable fairness that got players hooked with this game format and made Satoshi Dice so successful. Players could spend all day wagering custom amounts of Bitcoin, and still have mathematical proof that each and every dice roll they did was randomly selected as a win or loss based on the odds they had selected.
While Satoshi Dice is still an active website, some if its successors have been met with even greater success.
Satoshi Dice no longer ranks first when it comes to the volume of bets. Certain casinos like Stake managed to come up with and implement further improvements for their provably fair Bitcoin dice games. For Stake, their success has been so great that the website now offers dozens of proprietary games as well as a sportsbook.
As of technical improvements, the most important one was making bets off-chain, this way users could load their accounts with however much money they wanted to bet with by sending single Bitcoin transactions. This made the dice rolling process significantly faster as there wasn’t any need to transfer Bitcoin for every bet. Additionally, house edge on most Bitcoin dice games is 1%, which is extremely low compared to traditional casino games.
One of the final moves that helped these new Bitcoin dice games succeed was in making the gameplay more community oriented. Many people would show up to wager pennies and chat with others, while others would converse with the casino’s developer.
Only with Bitcoin
One could argue that Bitcoin is, more or less, programmable money. Nobody can mandate what it should be used for but everybody is free to find his or her own use-cases.
It’s this programmability that has allowed for unique innovations within gambling. Talented developers can bring their ideas to life by using Bitcoin and we’ve already seen the arrival of groundbreaking gambling platforms powered by the cryptocurrency.
One example of Bitcoin-only innovation would be the idea of user-funded gambling. Such websites were unheard of before Just-Dice was swarmed with new users. An event that encouraged the founder and lead developer to implement a crowdfunding solution through which users were able to invest in the house. This solution made Just-Dice one of the most bankrolled Bitcoin casinos of its time, allowing for bets of extremely high monetary value to be placed in the website.
Bitcoin’s contribution to online gambling doesn’t just stop at financing solutions for gambling platforms. There have been countless unique cryptocurrency-only games. One such game, bustabit, was described by its creator as a “social Bitcoin gambling game in which you place a bet and cash out before the bust event”. This new game, which came to be known as “Bitcoin crash“, was so unique that even the developer had a hard time describing it.
It was this game that inspired its owner to create the gambling wallet called MoneyPot. MoneyPot serves as a wallet for users and operators, which aims to empower provably fair gambling. Users of MoneyPot can handle balances on several provably fair online casinos with a single account, track their winnings and even invest in MoneyPot’s business by funding it, which in its turn funds the affiliated casinos and profits from their house edge.
The state of Bitcoin gambling today and in the future
Bitcoin’s free market has allowed for many innovations in gambling, attracting healthy competition and providing numerous options for BTC gamblers. There are several reputable casinos, dice games, sportsbooks, countless Bitcoin-only games and even investment opportunities in Bitcoin’s gambling industry.
Those that want to try out new casino technology are able to do so with Bitcoin, where innovative new websites and games are constantly popping up. New websites aren’t always successful but oftentimes engaging with a new Bitcoin website is a great experience for both the developers and players alike – Bitcoin gambling is still a niche market that can be very community oriented and fun to be a part of. Bitcoin’s gambling community is very vibrant in spite of its youthfulness, something that is especially noticeable in related forums like BitcoinTalk.
Overall, gambling is already a very big part of Bitcoin and one of its most popular use-cases so far. Bitcoin’s nature makes it especially fitting for activities like gambling and while the cryptocurrency’s success with the rest of the world might not be guaranteed, it’s already increasingly popular among gamblers and has a guaranteed future in the industry.