Bitcoin is currently very popular as an investment tool, yet it has been devised as a decentralised digital currency to pay for goods and services. An industry that has rapidly increased its trade in bitcoin, is the online gambling sector, a relatively young and ever-expanding industry, currently worth no less than $46 billion globally.
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Online casinos have been fulfilling the increasing demand for bitcoin as a payment method by offering players the opportunity to make deposits and withdrawals in the digital currency. As a result, professional gamblers are increasingly viewing the digital currency as an alternative method to generate income and build wealth.
Online Casinos and Professional Gamblers; A Strained Affair
Although many casino players, whether online or at a land-based casino, play for the thrill of winning, most play for entertainment purposes only and don’t expect to generate income on a regular basis. A small and rather invisible group of players consider themselves professional gamblers, as their aim is to make money by placing bets. With the rise of online gambling and new online casinos hitting the scene on a monthly basis, many professional players have taken their income generation online. Most are making money by playing online poker, live casino games, progressive jackpots of slot games and/ or by placing online sports bets. As more and more online casinos offer bitcoin as a payment option, professional online casino players have started to use the digital currency as part of their money- making strategies. It is not that most online casinos are keen on professional gamblers, especially those who are doing well, as they tend to cost the casino money. Professional players are therefore aiming to keep a low profile, also because some players want to avoid paying tax, as any winnings above a certain amount are taxable in most countries, that allow online gambling. Placing wagers in bitcoin can help players to remain under the radar.
The Advantages of Gambling with Bitcoin
Placing bets in bitcoin has several other advantages for online casino players in general and professional gamblers in particular. Paying with bitcoins is anonymous and at several bitcoin casinos, all you need for your registration is an email address, which is, as mentioned earlier, ideal for players, who would like to keep a low profile. Pay-outs in bitcoin are often processed instantly or take a maximum of 12 hours, unlike other payment methods, for which processing times can take up days, making bitcoin withdrawals considerably faster than other payment methods. Besides these advantages, the digital currency has gained tremendously in value in the last year. Especially players, who have had their bitcoin wallet for a while, receive considerably more casino credits for their bitcoin money compared to only a few weeks ago and their income is increasing, even when they’re not playing.
Bitcoin: Advocates and Critics
It is well known that bitcoin and digital currencies in general have as much advocates as critics. For advocates bitcoin is the payment method for a new and freer economy, without the need for a central bank or banks as middlemen. Critics argue that the currency is not sustainable and a promotor of illegal trade and activity. A recent argument raised against bitcoin in the Financial Times, is that its environmental costs are significant, however, you could argue that conventional fiat currencies have their costs too.
Despite arguments against digital currencies, gaming authorities have acknowledged the demand for bitcoin and the UK Gambling Commission allows licensees to offer the digital currency as a payment option. As bitcoin and other digital currencies have been linked to criminal activity, UK Gambling Commission licensees need to have procedures in place, that prevent money laundering activity via their online casino. This fear of links between bitcoin use and criminal activity might be unfounded, however, as a recent EU study has concluded that criminals and terrorist organisations hardly use bitcoin or other digital currencies.
The objection against digital currencies and bitcoin in particular, might lie in that institutions of power within the current system, like banks, are significantly losing power with the rise of decentralised technologies. While this power struggle is taking place and institutions are finding their own way to deal with the phenomenon of decentralised, digital currencies, professional online gamblers attempt to make the best of what bitcoin has to offer and with increasing success.