With the gambling industry heavily regulated, how long will it take until the crypto-currency will be accepted as legal tender for chips and payouts?
It can be argued that Bitcoin itself is a gamble, with the ever-changing value at Bitcoin exchanges, which are heavily dependent on both supply, demand and any current events affecting Bitcoin users and the industry. Given its meteoric rise in value, there are even some individuals who have become unsuspecting Bitcoin millionaires after holding on to a few Bitcoins and seeing the value shoot up just a few years after.
In the recent months, Bitcoin has started gaining mainstream acceptance, with schools, retail stores and other establishments now accepting payments through the crypto-currency. In Las Vegas, two casinos have recently started accepting Bitcoin payments, too. The D Las Vegas Casino Hotel and Golden Gate Hotel and Casino — which share a common owner — now accept Bitcoin, although at limited availability. For now, guests can use Bitcoin to pay for accommodation at the casinos’ hotel rooms, as well as incidentals like meals and souvenir gifts.
At the two casinos, cashiers will be equipped with tablets with BitPay, which enables patrons to make payments through their Bitcoin wallets.
Patrons cannot use Bitcoin to pay for chips or cash out their earnings yet, and this is due to the heavily-regulated nature of the casino industry. In a statement to media, the Nevada Gaming Control Board said it will require an “extremely high level of comfort with virtual currency” before it will approve the use of Bitcoin and similar payment mechanisms in casinos.
Bitcoin is no stranger to gambling, however, with some online gambling services focusing on Bitcoin, such as SatoshiDice and Just-Dice. In fact, in September last year, a lucky bitcoin gambler cashed out close to 11,000 bitcoins from Just-Dice, which claims to be a “provably fair” gambling site due to its transparent algorithms. However, the same could not be said for brick-and-mortar gambling establishments, given the different regulations depending on jurisdiction.
Derek Stevens, CEO at both Golden Gate and The D, says customers have been asking about the possibility of Bitcoin payments for months. Stevens says his companies are “quickly adaptive to new technology,” hence their willingness to take this gamble. “The timing is right for us to launch this initiative,” he added, perhaps in reference to how high-profile Bitcoin has become in the recent months.
Bitcoin has been met with mixed sentiment, with some praising the virtual currency for its potential in friction-less transactions, but with some government agencies expressing concern for its lack of long-term stability. With more establishments accepting the crypto-currency, however, Bitcoin may be well on its way to greater mainstream acceptance.
Image credit: Bitcoin Keychains / Flickr