Can You Use Bitcoin at Land-Based Casinos?
Published on February 02, 2018
Bitcoin has become very popular in the online gambling world.
This cryptocurrency offers lower fees and faster transactions when compared to traditional payment methods. It also allows players in unregulated markets (e.g., US, Canada) to access a larger number of casinos.
It’s easy to see why internet gamblers want to use Bitcoin (BTC). And online casinos are happy to oblige, especially since they can draw a wider range of customers.
But what about land-based casinos? Can you gamble with Bitcoin at your local casino?
I’m going to answer this question by discussing the current state of land-based casinos and BTC. I’ll also cover upcoming blockchain gambling machines and what to expect from cryptocurrencies in the future.
A small number of brick-and-mortar casinos do take Bitcoin as a form of payment. In fact, land-based casinos have actually been accepting this cryptocurrency for a few years.
The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino and The D Casino Hotel were the first brick-and-mortar casinos to enter this space. The Downtown Las Vegas properties started taking Bitcoin payments in January 2014 at the following locations:
Both casinos see their Bitcoin payments processed through BitPay, a company that streamlines BTC transactions through mobile devices.
Derek Stevens, CEO of The D and Golden Gate, felt like his company was on the cutting edge when they began taking Bitcoin.
“We’re located in the growing high-tech sector of Downtown Las Vegas, and like all things Downtown, we’re quickly adaptive to new technology,” Stevens said at the time.
His company may have been too quick to adapt to Bitcoin payments because other Vegas casino resorts still aren’t onboard yet.
While a limited number of casinos take Bitcoin for food, drinks, and hotel service, they don’t allow people to gamble with this cryptocurrency.
The only brick-and-mortar casino that currently offers Bitcoin gambling is the Merit Hotel Nicosia in Cyprus.
Merit bases the current Bitcoin price on Bitstamp, and they accept payments through their digital wallet. This venue also allows players to withdrawal BTC casino winnings in fiat currencies.
It’s nice to see that at least one land-based casino is willing to take Bitcoin payments. But it’s also discouraging for cryptocurrency users to find out that only one casino in the world offers BTC gambling.
The biggest thing holding brick-and-mortar casinos back from allowing Bitcoin gambling is heavy regulation.
Land-based casino jurisdictions have boards that debate on what is and isn’t allowed. Up to this point, few licensing jurisdictions have been forward-thinking on cryptocurrencies.
In a 2017 interview, A.G. Burnett, former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, said that Bitcoin’s demand, safety, and accountability aren’t up to their standards.
He also explained that the US dollar is the safest currency for Nevada casinos to deal with.
“Our regulations and statutes are all based on monetary units that are standard, such as the US dollar,” said Burnett. “In fact, I think most of our regulatory foundation, from audit to enforcement and accounting standards, are all based upon normal US currency being used in a gaming operation.”
Another dilemma with cryptocurrencies in land-based casinos is that most gamblers still use cash. In fact, an estimated 95% of casino customers make cash transactions.
The other major factor is that there’s just not enough people clamoring to use Bitcoin at their local casino. If the demand were higher, then we’d likely see casinos fighting more for cryptocoins.
Brick-and-mortar casinos and their gaming jurisdictions may not feel the need to add Bitcoin now. But there are several reasons why they should consider doing so in the near future.
Casinos have tried to overcome this by adding more entertainment options and nightclubs, and rolling out arcade-style gambling. The increased entertainment seems to be working, but the jury is still out on the arcade games.
Another thing that brick-and-mortar casinos can do to cater to the millennial audiences is to accept cryptocurrencies.
Recent research shows that thirty percent of those aged eighteen to thirty-four are highly interested in investing in cryptocurrencies. I’m sure that this number will only continue to grow over time.
Given the age demographics, increasing interest, and cryptocurrency, it only makes sense for land-based casinos to add Bitcoin as a payment option. But at the very least, this could be a novelty that attracts more young customers.
Another good thing about taking BTC is the blockchain technology that it runs on. The blockchain is a public ledger that records all Bitcoin transactions.
Recording every BTC transaction helps provide an additional layer of security. Furthermore, this greatly reduces the chances that anybody would try to counterfeit a cryptocoin.
Another benefit of land-based casinos adding a Bitcoin payment option is convenience.
Bitcoin gamblers could make their bets and claim winnings from a mobile device. The winnings would then be stored in an online wallet for safekeeping.
The end result is that BTC gamblers can avoid having to carry around large amounts of cash and/or chips.
I mentioned earlier that Bitcoin runs on a blockchain. But blockchain technology goes far beyond just serving a single cryptocurrency.
Instead, these record-keeping programs can be used with a variety of other cryptocoins and technologies.
SmartPlay.tech is currently using blockchain to make gambling machines for land-based casinos. Their goal is to
to help change the gambling industry.
SmartPlay is developing a line of “SmartBox” machines that will look like regular gambling machines. Furthermore, SmartBoxes will cover a variety of casino games, including blackjack, bingo, poker, and slot machines.
The SmartBox devices will feature a touchscreen for gambling action. These machines have a slot where players can deposit fiat currency, along with a QR scanner for completing Bitcoin transactions.
SmartPlay will soon test the first of these machines in a brick-and-mortar casino. The goal of the testing will be to determine how long people play the SmartBoxes, the average bet size, and how many gamblers play per hour.
Assuming everything goes well, the company hopes to start mass-producing SmartBox devices and putting them in major casinos.
Land-based casinos will likely be interested in these blockchain-based machines. And the main reason is because they will significantly reduce the operating costs and number of staff needed to operate casinos.
After all, a SmartBox doesn’t require a dealer or any other employee. This would in turn save land-based casinos a great deal of money.
The online gaming world has been embracing Bitcoin for several years. And there are actually online casinos, poker sites, and sports betting sites that only take BTC deposits.
This begs the question of why so many internet casinos accept Bitcoin, whereas only one land-based casino in the world does so.
First off, Bitcoin helps offshore casinos can get around undesirable laws so they can connect with more players.
One example of this includes America’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which prevents banks from processing online gambling transactions.
Bitcoin casinos don’t have to worry about the UIGEA, because BTC isn’t regulated by a central bank or government. Instead, these casinos are offering a peer-to-peer payment solution.
Faster transactions are one benefit that Bitcoin gamblers really appreciate. Rather than having to wait days for withdrawals to be approved by an e-wallet, players get their money within hours through Bitcoin.
Another good point to BTC is that it features lower transaction fees than normal payment solutions. Anybody who’s sick of paying large fees for e-wallet and credit card transactions will enjoy what Bitcoin offers in this department.
Operators also enjoy accepting Bitcoin because they don’t have to deal with any chargebacks. Instead, all BTC transactions are final and can’t be reversed.
Considering the advantages, it’s no wonder why a large number of online casinos are already taking Bitcoin.
Land-based casinos can certainly benefit from some of these advantages, too. But the only question is when gamblers will finally be able to enjoy the cryptocurrency benefits.
Bitcoin and online gambling are a natural fit. They both run through digital technology and complement each other well.
Therefore, it’s understandable why Bitcoin has become so prevalent among internet gamblers.
The potential relationship between BTC and brick-and-mortar casinos is a little harder to define.
Many land-based casino customers would rather use cash to play at casinos. The system of trading cash for chips and vice versa has been in play for a long time.
This makes it harder for newer technology like cryptocurrencies to break into this world. Neither gaming regulators nor the casinos themselves are overly interested in rocking the boat.
Another thing that remains to be seen is where Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are headed in the near future.
Countries like South Korea have threatened to cut off cryptocurrency trading due to the high volatility of the market. China has pondered ways to push Bitcoin Miners out of their country, given how much electricity it takes to mine BTC.
With so much yet to be considered with Bitcoin, many casinos and licensing jurisdictions may adopt a wait-and-see approach. If the early adopters experience success with Bitcoin at land-based casinos, then we may see more American gambling markets entering this space.
But the truth is that we’re still in the early stages of cryptocoins as a whole. And while it may take decades, I can guarantee that the majority of land-based casinos will eventually accept Bitcoin and other crypto commodities.