Although not many people seemed to notice, Bitcoin was heavily integrated into various aspects of the online gambling industry in 2016. While there have always been bitcoin-specific gambling websites available, 2016 was the year when the traditional online gambling industry stated to adopt the digital cash system en masse.
Many online gambling juggernauts, such as 5dimes and Bodog, have implemented Bitcoin as a way to make deposits and withdrawals on their websites, but perhaps more importantly, the affiliate networks used by the online gambling industry are beginning to view Bitcoin as a requirement rather than an option.
Additionally, Bodog Founder Calvin Ayre has predicted that Bitcoin will continue to infiltrate the entire online gambling industry in 2017.
A Prediction from Calvin Ayre
Ayre made a blog post near the end of 2016 where he made a few predictions for the online gambling industry in 2017. In the post, Ayre was extremely bullish on the adoption of Bitcoin.
“Mark my words: Bitcoin is eventually going to eat the whole global online gambling industry and the first courses of this meal are already being digested,” wrote Ayre. “Quite apart from liberating gambling sites from the anti-competitive dictates of government-imposed payment blocking, the blockchain technology underpinning Bitcoin is rapidly making the role of gaming regulators obsolete.”
Ayre went as far as hint that online gambling operators should store some of their capital in bitcoin. “With its finite volume hardwired into the technology, Bitcoin is increasingly viewed as a safe haven more akin to gold than the highly speculative investment it once was, and operators who store their loot on the blockchain will find themselves with extra capital to fuel expansion plans,” wrote Ayre.
Deposits and Withdrawals
The list of online sportsbooks where Bitcoin is an acceptable deposit method has grown rather substantially over the past couple of years. Anyone who has gambled on sports via the Internet will recognize many of the sportsbooks that have now integrated Bitcoin into their payment processes.
The UK Gambling Commission also updated their License Conditions and Codes of Practice to include Bitcoin as an acceptable payment option for licensees. The update included a provision that licensees need to implement procedures to prevent the use of Bitcoin for money laundering purposes via their platforms.
Online Gambling Affiliate Networks
Perhaps the most interesting development related to Bitcoin in the online gambling industry is the use of the digital, decentralized payment system for affiliate payouts. The online gambling affiliate networks are pushing Bitcoin on their referrers due to the difficulties involved with making payments via the traditional banking system. In fact, Bitcoin has become the only payment option for some of the online gambling affiliate networks.
Betting Partners and Winning Poker Network both made Bitcoin the only option for affiliate payouts in 2016, and Commission.bz is in the process of moving to a Bitcoin-only system. These affiliate networks handle the payouts for some of the biggest names in the online gambling industry such as Bovada and BetOnline.
In a letter to their affiliates last year, Betting Partners outlined some of the key reasons for making the switch over to Bitcoin. Some of the features of Bitcoin mentioned in the letter included:
- Having payouts processed in under an hour
- No restrictions on the amount that can be sent
- No personal information required for payments
- A lowering of the minimum payout threshold to $10
Betting Partners also noted that a new Bitcoin address will be required for each payout to protect privacy on both ends.
In their own notice on the move to Bitcoin payouts, Winning Poker Network noted, “Bitcoin has fast become the most cost-effective and timely method of processing cash-outs for both players and affiliates.”
Other affiliate networks, such as Drake Affiliates, have not forced their affiliates to accept payments via Bitcoin, but they’ve created strong incentives to make the switch to the P2P digital cash system. For example, those who received payouts via Bitcoin within the first few months of Drake Affiliates’s integration of the P2P digital cash system enjoyed a 10 percent bonus when compared to other payment methods.
This push for bitcoin from the online gambling industry speaks volumes to how much of a hassle it is for them to use the traditional banking system.