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02/05/2013 by
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Are Bitcoins The Casino Chips Of The Future?

The Internet has been a game-changer for almost every aspect of modern life. It has changed the way we communicate, the way we do business and the way consume entertainment.

Are Bitcoins The Casino Chips Of The Future?

That’s why it’s no surprise that casino gaming has been thrown for a loop by either integrating or resisting the Internet into its own systems.

Online gambling has been a major legal issue for years, but the biggest development in the debate so far is Bitcoin, the unregulated online currency.

Bitcoin is popping up in a lot of online games and it’s effectively circumventing laws that have kept online casinos from really exploding.

What Is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is an online-only currency. Although there are some computer theorists whose ideas influenced Bitcoin, the identity of its inventor or inventors is unknown.

Are Bitcoins The Casino Chips Of The Future?

Because no individual or organization claims rights to it or regulates it, there’s no central financial institution associated with Bitcoin. It’s essentially a stand-alone financial tool with no direct tie to any real-world currency.

For this reason, many online casinos have started using Bitcoin.

Who Accepts Bitcoin?

Today, nearly no real-world businesses accept Bitcoin as legal tender.

There are many online businesses and peer-to-peer exchanges that use Bitcoin, though, and its prevalence is only growing.

Most commonly, there are websites like Coingig that invite users to buy and sell goods using Bitcoin, mimicking familiar platforms like eBay.

Currency or Casino Chip?

The reason online gambling sites are turning to Bitcoin is because it lacks government regulation.

Are Bitcoins The Casino Chips Of The Future?

The United States government has sued many Internet casino companies for violating gambling laws in states where gambling isn’t legal, but all of these companies have used the U.S. Dollar as their currency of exchange.

The U.S. government doesn’t consider Bitcoin a true currency, so whether a website asks users to ante in a poker game with Bitcoin or “insert” a fraction of a Bitcoin into online slots, no money is legally changing hands.

In this way, Bitcoin is more like a casino chip than a dollar — players win and lose the token, but can trade it in for real currency later.

It’s not illegal to exchange Bitcoins for dollars, just as it’s not illegal to exchange casino chips for currency.

Will Bitcoin Ever Be Regulated?

The legal fate of Bitcoin is hard to predict, as no government in the world has ever had to address the existence of a currency-like thing with no physical component.

Even if regulators attempt to control the exchange of Bitcoins, they’ll run into a lot of snags from legal precedent. Today, there are many cases on record that ultimately define computer code as speech protected under the First Amendment.

Bitcoins are nothing but computer code, so the degree to which the government can legally regulate it may be very limited.

My Opinion
Because its value fluctuates and its current uses are limited, Bitcoin remains a specialty currency for online gambling.

For online casinos that know how to benefit from Bitcoin, it’s still a great alternative to the legal problems associated with accepting dollars or other currency for games of skill and chance.

Whether it remains niche or becomes the new standard in online gambling depends on how widespread the use of Bitcoin becomes and how closely the government wishes to control it.

What About You?
How do you see the future of Bitcoins? Share your ideas in the comments.

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About the Author
Calvin Sellers is a freelance writer and graphic designer from Tampa, FL. Follow him on Twitter @Calvinthescribe

Sources: Image 2 via Flickr by zcopley, image 3 via Flickr by solit2d.

 

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