While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies haven’t entirely revolutionised the world of online gambling, they’ve certainly made some impact. In this article, we’ll take a look at the effect digital currencies have had on the industry, before speculating about what the future holds.
We’ll also assess some of the most popular crypto casinos to discover what makes them so successful. But first, let’s take a walk down memory lane and learn about the early days of online gambling.
A Brief History of Online Gambling
In all likelihood, humans have been playing games of chance for their entire existence. Certainly, the earliest known record we have of gambling activity dates to around 2300 BC, using dice carved from bone. No surprise then, that we saw a flurry of online casinos appear during the dot-com boom, as the internet came to prominence.
More than one company can lay claim to being the first online casino. We know for sure that at least one site offered real money gambling over the internet as early as 1994. However, these pioneering websites lacked online payment systems, which did not arrive until the launch of InterCasino in 1996. By modern definitions of an online casino, this would be the first.
The 2000s saw huge growth in online gambling, with sports betting, poker and casinos all taking off. As huge organisations like Playtech, PartyGaming, Microgaming and the 888 Group expanded rapidly, governments began to tighten regulations. But consumer appetite only grew, with the global industry worth an estimated $24 billion by the end of the decade.
However, something else entirely was beginning to emerge around this time, starting with the publication of a hugely influential whitepaper. Satoshi Nakamoto’s “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” makes no reference to online wagering. But it would certainly impact the gambling scene in the coming years.
Birth of Bitcoin
Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym. To this day, nobody really knows the identity of the individual or group of people behind the document. Whoever it was, they began developing the initial code as early as 2007, before the whitepaper was published on October 31st 2008. The mysterious Satoshi remained involved in the project up to December 2010, before disappearing.
The concept of Bitcoin is fairly straightforward. Transactions would be carried out via a peer-to-peer network, verified by cryptographic algorithms, with no need for third-party ownership. Underpinning the digital currency is a publicly visible ledger of transactions known as a blockchain. It’s this transparency which helps keep the network free of tampering, censorship or control.
This inspired many entrepreneurs and developers to apply Bitcoin to solve all kinds of problems, not only financial ones. In turn, many sought to improve the infrastructure, creating entirely new digital currencies and blockchains. And one of the earliest adopters of the new technology was the gambling industry.
The First Bitcoin Casino
Much like the first online gambling sites, a number of companies assert that they were the first bitcoin casino. A site named SatoshiDice, clearly inspired by the creator of the currency, certainly offered bitcoin based RNG games as early as 2012.
SatoshiDice players could wager using nothing more than a Bitcoin wallet, and the casino proved hugely successful. However, it was forced to cease operations in several jurisdictions as industry regulators tightened controls. But Pandora’s Box was already open, and countless crypto casinos would emerge as a result on this trailblazing site.
With the launch of Bitcasino.io in February 2014, the world had its first completely legal Bitcoin casino. Still around today, it’s possible to enjoy slots, table games, bingo and much more besides. The site continues to accept Bitcoin, plus many other popular currencies.
Bitcoin’s Impact on Gambling
So what exactly has changed since the arrival of Bitcoin casinos? Perhaps the most notable improvements we’ve seen affect payment processing. First of all, the casino operator no longer needs to pay fees to third parties, saving them plenty of money. Luckily for players, these savings are often passed on in the form of larger signup bonuses and loyalty rewards.
Secondly, the average withdrawal is rarely fast. Even if the casino turns things around internally in under 24 hours, the processor can still delay your payment for up to a week. But thanks to cryptocurrency, it’s now possible to get your hands on your winnings almost instantly.
In the early days of crypto wagering, there was much talk about the anonymity offered by the likes of Bitcoin. However, this hasn’t really come to pass, unless you want to run the risk of playing at unlicensed casinos.
All industry regulators have to worry about money laundering and player protection, such as keeping minors from gambling. They only issue licences to operators running detailed Know Your Customer (KYC) checks. So even though your individual transactions might be anonymous on the blockchain, the casino still knows who did what.
Finally, the transparency offered by blockchain technology has given birth to the concept of the popular provably fair games such as dice, plinko, crash etc. Not only does this enable players to verify the honesty and integrity of games. But it could potentially reduce operational costs further, since casinos could potentially do away with expensive third-party certification of games.
Popular Cryptocurrency Casinos Today
There are hundreds of cryptocurrency casinos around the world at present, all offering a variety of different games. And naturally, some are more popular than others. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest crypto casinos and find out why they’re so successful.
Launched in 2017, BC.Game is one of the most flexible crypto casinos around. Players can transact using dozens of fiat currencies, as well as more than 100 digital coins. What’s more, the chips used in games are actually in denominations of your chosen cryptocurrency, making this a true crypto casino.
Licensed in Curaçao, BC.Game boasts a staggering collection of titles. There are over 7,000 slots alone, taken from some of the industry’s most cutting-edge creators. Players can check out Nolimit City games, for instance, with their staggering maximum payouts. Or try classics like the Rich Wilde series by Play’n Go and Starburst from NetEnt.
There’s a comprehensive live casino offering too. This includes the full product range from the two biggest suppliers, Evolution and Pragmatic Play, alongside seven other providers. But you can also enjoy more than 50 old school RNG table games, from a variety of top developers.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the BC.Game library is the BC Originals range. This features more than 20 unique titles, including some really fun and novel ideas such as crash, dice, plinko and many more. They are built on the blockchain, allowing you to look up the results and verify their authenticity.
Another crypto casino founded in 2017, Stake.com handles more than 300 million Bitcoin wagers every month. This hugely popular site offers 19 different cryptocurrencies, including the most popular coins like BTC, ETH and XRP.
Although not as big as BC.Game, the catalogue of games at Stake.com is still outstanding. For example, there are more than 3,000 slots from two dozen of the world’s leading game developers. The live casino is packed with products from the award-winning supplier Evolution. Plus you can play a number of classics, such as keno, video poker and bingo, along with innovative crash games.
In addition to its online casino, Stake.com also offers sports betting. The site is especially well-known for its outstanding esports product with thousands of wagering opportunities every day. Bet on the likes of Dota 2, CS:GO and League of Legends, both in-play and pre-game.
Another reason for the success of this huge crypto casino is the selection of bonuses. Loyal players can benefit from the VIP club, earning exclusive no-strings-attached rewards. Plus there are frequent promotions for the regulars, including prize drops, giveaways and special challenges.
Founded in 2018, TrustDice is the number one ranked crypto casino on TrustPilot, the online review platform. Such an endorsement from real people is significant, showing that this Curaçao-licensed site really knows a thing or two about running a successful crypto casino.
The game library is stacked with over 2,000 titles across a wide range of games. Play dice, crash games, slots or any number of traditional table games, including roulette, baccarat and blackjack. While the live casino is crammed with the latest products from eight different suppliers, including industry leaders Evolution.
TrustDice places a great deal of importance on security. Alongside the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption protocol, your casino account can be secured using two-factor authentication. What’s more, the site offers an assortment of provably fair games, assuring players of a safe gaming experience.
Finally, another contributing factor to the popularity of TrustDice is undoubtedly their staggering welcome bonus. New players can pocket the equivalent of up to $90,000 across their first three deposits, thanks to this generous package of match bonuses.
The Future of Bitcoin Gambling
It remains to be seen exactly what the future holds in terms of Bitcoin gambling, but the possibilities are exciting. Even though many online casinos now accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, the vast majority around the world still do not. We are not even close to mainstream acceptance.
As awareness of crypto continues to grow, it seems likely that an increasing number of wagering platforms will embrace them. Google Trends indicates a steady increase in searches for “Bitcoin casinos” in recent years, first peaking around the middle of 2021. However, until the volatile crypto world settles down, progress will be hindered.
It’s thought that almost 20,000 crypto coins exist and this is clearly unsustainable. The community needs to agree on which blockchains and coins will prevail, before the casinos can fully adopt such technology. But another barrier to mainstream acceptance of crypto casinos could well be consumer suspicion.
There has yet to be a major invention that was not met with deep mistrust. From electricity and telephones, to computers and even the internet itself, people are always wary of the new. This applies to regulators too, who are keen to clampdown to the perceived risk of criminal activity.
Something to look for in future could be the emergence of metaverse casinos. These are built on the same blockchain technology as cryptocurrencies. Most metaverse gambling companies that already exist use their own unique digital coins, alongside Bitcoin.
SatoshiDice is widely regarded as the first blockchain gambling site built around Bitcoin. However, its product offering was limited. Bitcasino.io, which launched in 2014, was the first fully licensed site to offer a full range of casino games playable using BTC.
A true crypto casino allows members to play online gambling games using their chosen digital currency. All chip denominations, wagers and payouts take place using cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Many online casinos accept crypto payments, but convert these deposits to fiat currency in order to play.
That’s a matter of opinion, since everyone values different aspects of a casino. For some, the range of games is most important. But for others it might be security, payout speeds or bonuses. We’ve discussed three of the most popular Bitcoin casinos elsewhere in this article.
Cryptocurrency casinos tend to offer faster payout times. Blockchain technology facilitates fair gaming, providing greater transparency to players. Since the casino doesn’t need to pay fees to payment processors, they can usually afford to offer greater bonuses. This lack of third-party interference also puts players in complete control of their payments.
Not if you’re playing at a licensed casino. Blockchain transactions are anonymous. So in theory, it’s possible to gamble without disclosing the identity of participants. However, if an online casino is properly regulated, players must submit personal details in order to play. Operators are obliged to perform identity checks in order to maintain their licences.