Cryptocurrencies’ Effect on iGaming in 2019

Digital currencies look set to disrupt just about every industry on the planet. However, pinpointing exactly when is another matter. One industry that has been particularly quick to experiment with digital asset use and the implications of blockchain technology is the iGaming industry.

There are all kinds of reasons why cryptocurrencies and online casinos make a great match. Players love fast payments, provably fair gambling, anonymous betting, and a host more perks. Meanwhile, casinos love the lower overheads afforded by not relying on ever-so-costly legacy payment networks.

Whether 2019 is the year that cryptocurrency gambling hits the mainstream is doubtful. The entire sector is still incredibly niche. After all, a lot of people have a hard time trusting any online casino that doesn’t have a shop on their local high street. For some unknown operator, likely demanding the use of an even more niche currency than Bitcoin, to take the entire market by storm seems unlikely.

That said, the innovation and experimentation going on at these niche iGaming venues will likely lay the groundwork for major disruption in the coming years. Efforts are being made to see just how cryptocurrency and blockchain technology can improve the player experience, security, and ease of operation of online casinos. It seems only a matter of time before the industry as a whole realizes the potential of these technologies and adoption begins at even the largest operators.

Despite the fact that we’re not sure if crypto is going to flip the gambling industry on its head this year or in 10 years, here are some of the most exciting trends emerging in 2019.

It’s Never Been Easier to Setup a Casino!

By using cryptocurrency, iGaming operators don’t need to set up relationships with existing payment networks. This is great since a flood of new operators come to the market each year. This might well be another golden era for innovation in the industry. If you plan to gamble using crypto, a good source can be found at Nodepositrewards which allows you to filter crypto-only online casinos

Of course, when so much innovation occurs and new ideas are presented all the time, some of it just doesn’t work. These failures are important. However, less desirable is an equal number of scams. With a much lower barrier to entry of the industry and more products hitting the market all the time, there are also rife opportunities for scam artists to strike. A nicely laid out site design and a Bitcoin wallet address might be all it takes for a “Bitcoin casino” to start taking deposits. Whether you ever see any of that money again is another matter.

Borderless Gambling

As decentralized technologies, both cryptocurrency and the internet radically reduce the restrictions of national borders. Even if you live in a part of the world that has completely outlawed online gambling, you can still easily play online using a cryptocurrency casino and a VPN and perhaps TOR browser. Many of the top online casinos accepting cryptocurrency exclusively boast that they will not turn away players from any part of the world. As long as you have the funds to play the games, your nationality will not count against you!

Linked to this concept is the idea of offering anonymous betting or casino games. Venues such as Nitrogen Sports now offers what it claims to be entirely anonymous betting. You just enter a username and password. Upon entry to the sportsbook, you receive a welcome message that greets you as Satoshi, which is a nice touch. Of course, whilst using Bitcoin as its primary deposit method, players can’t really consider it a totally anonymous service. With Monero or a similar privacy-focused currency, perhaps its claims would be more warranted.

Provably Fair

Perhaps the innovation that will be most transformative in the coming years is that of provably fair gambling. Since many cryptocurrency-friendly online casinos build their games directly on top of a blockchain network, using open-source code, each can be audited by the public themselves. This allows players to see that each necessary outcome was indeed entered into the random number generator. This is incredibly powerful and could not only shake up the casino industry itself but the casino auditing one too.

Provably fair gambling has been around for a while now but it’s yet to really take off. In fact, the first Bitcoin casino, BitDice, has featured provably fair gambling since 2014.

Betting on Yourself in eSports?

Another fascinating development in the world of online casinos in recent years is the idea of monetizing eSports. We’ve all seen the multi-million-dollar professional eSports tournaments by now. However, a number of blockchain and cryptocurrency start-ups are offering platforms in which any player can bet on themselves in a tournament-style game.

The idea is a bit like a poker tournament in that each player buys themselves in for a chance to take down some of the prize pool. Prominent names working on or offering such platforms include MobileGo, Unikoin Gold, and FirstBlood.

Improved AML

Although many cryptocurrency casinos currently exist outside of regulatory control, there are start-ups working to make it easier for regulators to police the industry against money laundering and other financial crimes. One example is CasinoCoin, which is built using Ripple’s blockchain technology. The firm recently partnered with regulatory technology firm Jumio to provide its wallet application with built-in, real-time AML and KYC identity check. Casino coin hopes to work with regulated, established operators to bring the benefits of blockchain to the wider industry.

Lower Fees

Of course, one thing often touted as a benefit of cryptocurrencies is their low fees. If a casino can save a packet on not having to pay Visa and other banking-related fees, they can extend that saving on to the players themselves. Two firms looking to do just that are CoinPoker and CHIPS. These crypto start-ups focus on poker, with a goal of drastically reducing the rake paid at tables. This could be a huge boon for players in the utter rake-trap that is microstakes poker online.

Carolyn Coley is a blockchain reporter. She joined Smartereum after graduating from UC Berkeley in 2018.

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