Over the past few years, a virtual currency called "bitcoins" has been getting a great deal of scrutiny. If this peer-to-peer currency were to become a viable way for people to pay for things, it is widely anticipated that bitcoins will lead the way. That said, bitcoins are already being accepted as a viable payment form by some merchants located all over the world. In fact, ATM machines that disperse bitcoins have been installed in some parts of Canada and Nevada.
What Are Bitcoins?
Bitcoins are a form of virtual currency. There is no monetary system that calibrates and supports the value of them. Instead, the value is determined by the market based on what traders and merchants are willing to give in real cash and services in exchange for the bitcoins. They are initially created through a mining process where users perform complicated tasks on their computers and get bitcoins in return. They are then subsequently registered and tracked on a public registry where all participants are anonymous, using only client identification number for transactional purposes.
Bitcoins for the Online Casino Gambling Industry
For as long as people have gambled, they have always wanted to find a way to remain as anonymous as possible. Some of this relates to tax issues while the simple desire for privacy has also been a major consideration. This notion of privacy and secrecy has made iGaming and bitcoins a match made in heaven. Casinos that accept bitcoins do so without requiring players to disclose personal information. All the players have to provide is a name, any name under which they can open an account. The deposits and withdrawals are coordinated through a bitcoin exchange with the value of the bitcoin pegged at the current going rate at the time of the transaction.
For Casinos and players, bitcoins are financially beneficial because there is no processing fee being charged by a credit card company. Since the casino isn't getting hit with a fee, it's up to them whether or not they charge the customer for processing a bitcoin transaction.
Another casino and player benefit of bitcoins is the ability to avoid governmental interference. When casinos deal in real money, player accounts are subject to seizure by governmental agencies for law violations. This is a particularly sensitive issue for most US players who are not supposed to be gambling online. Through the use of bitcoins, a person's identity is unknown making it impossible for governments to issue seizure orders.
How to Play With Bitcoins
Currently, there are 20-30 viable casinos that accept bitcoins. Some of them merely accept bitcoins as a banking option and then convert them to real cash. There are also a group of casinos that deal solely in bitcoins. All transactions and gambling are done using the value of the virtual currency. Considering the current value of a bitcoin (229USD), they are probably better suited for high rollers who are used to moving large amounts of money around.
The Future of Bitcoins
No one can predict where all this leads, but online casinos and gaming software developers have recently been shifting focus towards the possibility of bitcoins growing in popularity. The outcome of these efforts remains to be seen.