A recently published report suggests that the global online gambling market will grow by $114 billion over the next four years, with bitcoin playing its part. While forecasts related to economic growth may seem flawed given our current circumstances, with a virus having swept aggressively across the planet and drastically altered the way we live and work, the 120-page report is worthy of serious contemplation. Particularly given the widespread closure of land-based casinos, betting shops and bingo halls, which should theoretically drive gamblers into the loving arms of online portals.
If Netflix’s 16 million new signups during lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that consumers are increasingly sourcing their entertainment fix where they can get it – from the internet. For virtual gambling platforms, that means business as usual although sportsbooks are understandably suffering due to the indefinite suspension of major events. As for the wider crypto world, recent months have seen record spikes in stablecoin creations and volumes, motivated by a global flight to safety.
Crypto Gambling Goes From Strength to Strength
Let’s be honest, no-one can confidently predict how the current pandemic is going to shake out. But based on recent developments in the world of crypto gambling – the explosion of censorship-resistant decentralized gaming applications (dApps), wider support for digital assets, the success of crypto-only virtual casinos – it’s easy to see why the new report supports the notion that bitcoin gambling will boost the growth of this market to a significant degree.
The gambling industry is currently entering a new and exciting phase characterized by innovation designed to enhance the player’s experience from top to bottom. That means prompt and secure transactions (smooth payments, swift withdrawals), slick in-game features like virtual goods and bonuses, and easy identity management and verification. It just so happens that blockchain-based gaming is ahead of the curve in these and other regards.
Evidence of this fact is all around us. Last year, Microsoft partnered with crypto gaming platform Enjin to create a blockchain-based recognition programme wherein players could earn digital collectibles. Earlier this year, Enjin formed a similar partnership with sports fan engagement project Chiliz (CHZ), creating a range of Ethereum-based NFTs available through the rewards app socios.com. And a novel new project is letting gamblers make wagers on digital racehorses with unique attributes, trade histories and win records; users can even breed horses from their own stables, buying them with digital tokens.
Esports and Blockchain: A Match Made in Heaven?
While the popularity of esports makes sense in the current moment, it was already on an upward trajectory. After all, esports was a $1 billion sector before the crisis kicked off. Esports and crypto seem like a match made in heaven given the similarities between their tech-savvy audiences. Decentralized technology could also be integrated to ensure esports results are transparently recorded, with smart contracts triggering automated rewards – similar to the process favored by many crypto casinos.
As for dApps, gaming and gambling remain the most popular use cases as measured by active users, transactions and volume: poker platforms, blockchain lotto games, slots, dice games, betting titles, virtual dog racing, even prediction platforms where players can trade on the outcome of events in almost any imaginable category. Casino apps constitute 92.1% of total volume on the TRON blockchain, one of the three major dApp protocols. And these dApps are only likely to become more sophisticated as the ecosystem is built out in the years to come.
The Benefits of Gambling with Bitcoin
It’s not just dApps that allow crypto gamblers to get their fix. Regular online casinos that let players spend bitcoin and other digital assets when placing bets or playing slots stand to benefit greatly by eliminating the banking intermediaries that typically slow the process and charge excessive fees into the bargain. Without their involvement, transactions can be settled quickly and transparently on the blockchain, with players funding their endeavors from crypto wallets and withdrawing their winnings just as effortlessly. The fees, meanwhile, are negligible compared to those charged by banks.
Players undoubtedly benefit from this setup, but so do casinos, since customers are more likely to make higher bets given the savings they’ve made at the threshold. Bigger bets can mean bigger profits for the player, of course, but the old adage of “the house always wins” still stands. The borderless nature of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin also lets casinos tap into the unbanked market, since just about anyone can set up a crypto wallet and get involved in the digital economy.
It’s probably a stretch to say that cryptocurrencies will be the primary driver of growth in the online gambling market in the years ahead, but as recent research indicates, they’re likely to play a meaningful role. And all the more so if the digital dollar goes from rumor to reality, validating bitcoin in the process. Online casinos that hold out and deny players the chance to participate using crypto will come to rue their decision.