Gamblers bet on Bitcoin for anonymous online wagering

Anti-gambling laws may not stop bets with Bitcoin

SatoshiDice is the most popular Bitcoin gambling site, according to James Canning of the Bitcoin Betting Guide.

SatoshiDice is the most popular Bitcoin gambling site, according to James Canning of the Bitcoin Betting Guide.

State of Bitcoin gambling

There are hundreds of online gambling sites that accept Bitcoin, but they tend to be specialist sites and few if any are mainstream gambling companies, said Canning.

“Most of them are very new” and only about a dozen are worth gamblers’ time, he admitted.

SatoshiDice, a simple dice game named for the mysterious founder of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, is the most popular Bitcoin gambling site, said Canning.

In SatoshiDice, a player rolls a number between one and 100 after placing a bet on what they’re going to roll. Canning said the odds are slightly better than Blackjack and quite a bit better than slots.

The game has seen “thousands and thousands of micro transactions – just people betting a few cents per roll.”

We contacted popular Australian companies that offer online betting – TabCorp, Sportsbet and Tom Waterhouse – but none would comment about Bitcoin or if they would accept the cryptocurrency in the future.

Gambling sites that choose to accept Bitcoin stand to benefit, asserted Canning. “Advantages to the customer are advantages to the operator.”

Bitcoin allows online gambling site operators to widen their potential customer base to the entire world, regardless of any individual country’s laws, he said. The quicker sign up process enabled by Bitcoin also means users are less likely to abandon ship during registration, he said.

Bitcoin operators can choose to be anonymous, avoiding taxes and other legal responsibilities, he said.

Also, the instant nature of Bitcoin transfers can also help websites avoid fraud, he said.

For example, with traditional payments, customers can ask their bank to reverse charges after they’ve lost a bet. And Bitcoin operators don’t have to deal with fraudulent IDs submitted by identity theft criminals, he said.

The cost savings from some of the above benefits can be passed on to the customer, said Canning.

“They can actually pay out more to the customer and make just as much money because their expenses are lower.”

Canning said he does not view the price volatility of Bitcoin as a problem for gamblers or operators. The amount of volatility in Bitcoin is lessening with time, and regardless, Bitcoin gambling isn’t about making a fortune, he said.

“Most people are not gambling with the expectation of increasing their purchasing power,” he said. “Most people are gambling for fun, for entertainment.”

“For recreational gamblers, which are the majority, I don’t see a problem.”

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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