Mainstream Cryptocurrency Gaming Still Feels Slightly Out of Reach
In a blurb on its website, the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino – one of the historic downtown resorts of Las Vegas – writes about bitcoin. It’s a positive spiel on the cryptocurrency, talking about it as something to be embraced and something with a bright future in commerce. The piece also talks about Vegas’ embrace of bitcoin, informing us that you can use it to pay for “hotel rooms, eat out and more”. That all sounds appealing for enthusiasts of cryptocurrency, but there is a big asterisk attached to the text, telling us that the “one exception is at the casinos, where only US currency is accepted for gambling”.
As it is Las Vegas, that exception is quite a significant one. Not everyone goes to Las Vegas to gamble, but it’s obviously a high priority for many of the visitors. Will it turn of budding cryptocurrency gamblers from visiting Sin City? Probably not. However, Las Vegas’ reluctance to accept bitcoin – or any other cryptocurrency – is perhaps emblematic of a wider truth. Namely, that cryptocurrency gaming has yet to hit the mainstream.
The term “mainstream” can be misleading, however. Consider that the ICOholder blog has lots of information on cryptocurrency-specialist casino and betting sites. Wouldn’t their popularity suggest that cryptocurrency gambling has gone mainstream? Perhaps, but there are several caveats, and they are important to know should you ever consider gambling with cryptocurrency.
Major regulators deny bitcoin licences
The first, and the most important topic, is the question of licencing. From Las Vegas to London, New Jersey to Ottawa, the major regulatory bodies of the iGaming industry do not – as of yet – support gambling with cryptocurrencies. Some are exploring the possibilities, whereas others flat out refuse to acknowledge the demand. But as of today, none of the world’s major regulatory bodies will grant licences to casinos – offline and online – if they offer cryptocurrency gambling. That, in effect, is what we mean by mainstream.
The burning question, then: Does it make a difference? Suppose you were to play online roulette at Mr Green, which is fully licenced to operate in Canada, the UK and several other countries. Would it be any different from playing with a non-regulated site or one with a licence from somewhere like Curacao? A licence from a reputed regulatory body is designed to protect players, with the regulatory bodies stepping in to resolve disputes. And, most importantly, ensuring the games are fair.
The tiny Caribbean island of Curacao is one of the go-to options for cryptocurrency gambling operators. It is not our intention to besmirch Curacao or any operators working solely with a licence from there, but it’s clear that its oversight, laws and protections are not as stringent as the major regulators. In fact, we can go as far as saying that some operators will aim for a Curacao licence because it is easy to get one.
Cryptocurrency platforms flock to Curacao
Again, we should stress that it’s perfectly possible to find a trustworthy casino with a licence from Curacao. But it feels like they prove their trustworthiness after receiving a licence. With the major regulators, it’s the other way around; operators must demonstrate that they adhere to robust standards and protections before receiving that licence.
So, where does this leave us with cryptocurrency gambling? If we were to try to predict the outcome, we would say that, yes, eventually there will be mainstream licences awarded for cryptocurrency gambling sites. However, that might be a long time away – several years at least. When you hear Donald Trump Steve Mnuchin, Justin Trudeau, as well as other voices that matter, sound cool on cryptocurrency as a whole, then that is going to filter down to the regulators at state and national level. These things take years to work through parliaments and legislatures, and it leads us to believe that cryptocurrency gambling in the mainstream will remain out of reach for a long time to come.