There’s been an explosion of Bitcoin poker sites on the internet for the last few years. Some say the virtual currency can’t be trusted, because it is just that – a virtual currency. Others commend Bitcoin poker as the next big wave in the future of internet gaming.
Bitcoin first appeared in 2009, followed by the first exclusive Bitcoin poker site, Clubs with Seals, in 2011. As some of you may know, the US-based operator was shut down by authorities in Nevada in February of 2015. In late April, the state chose to pursue legal action, issuing a warrant for the arrest of the unlicensed Bitcoin poker site’s owner, Bryan Micon, who is believed to be on the run in Antigua.
For the moment, members of the online poker room are able to request withdraws of their funds, but it certainly creates a dark cloud over the virtual currency’s acceptability in today’s internet gaming market.
What are Bitcoins, Anyway?
Bitcoins are a “decentralized” virtual currency, often called cryptocurrency. Users can pay real money to purchase Bitcoins, with all accounts recorded in a “public distributed ledger”. When a user sells their Bitcoins, they receive cash in exchange. It works in much the same way as depositing and withdrawing from a bank, except that there is no government controlling the system or third-party employed to facilitate the transfer.
Because of this, Bitcoins are a much cheaper way to move money, no matter what currency it starts or ends with. In fact, many account holders will use Bitcoin to avoid paying fees to exchange foreign currencies.
Bitcoin is a currency, therefore it has a value just like all other currencies. For instance, the present exchange rate tells us that 100-USD is comparable to 89.75-EUR. Likewise, the current value of is Bitcoin $22,505.00 per $100-USD (or $225.05 Bitcoin per $1.00 USD). Since the value/exchange rate of Bitcoins fluctuates like all other currencies, many ForEx traders purchase and sell Bitcoin for profit.
How Safe are Bitcoin Poker Sites?
The safety of Bitcoin poker sites depends entirely on the operators behind them. For example, partypoker is licensed and regulated, and allows its members to make deposits and withdrawals via Bitcoin. Their reputation is unrivaled in today’s internet gaming industry. Then again, there are sites like Seals with Clubs, which seemed to be perfectly reputable, but was unlicensed and, being based in the US, we all know how well that went.
Another concern for consumers is the security of Bitcoin accounts. While trusted Bitcoin poker sites may not be an issue, the security of a Bitcoin eWallet is up for debate.
Generally speaking, the payment provider maintains laudable security measures, but that hasn’t stopped hackers from stealing millions of dollars’ worth of Bitcoins, namely from virtual currency exchange groups.
The most famous theft of Bitcoins occurred in February of 2014 when Tokyo’s largest virtual currency exchange group, Mt. Gox, was forced to file for bankruptcy after reporting 774,000 Bitcoins (equivalent to $175.4 million USD) had been stolen.
Another case occurred in March 2014 when Canada-based Bitcoin storage specialist Flexcoin reported $660k worth had been stolen. That company went out of business, too. The same month, $50k worth of Bitcoins were stolen from Poloniex. Then in January of 2015, bitstamp, the world’s third busiest Bitcoin exchange group based in the UK, lost 19,000 ($5 million) Bitcoins to a hacker.
Are Bitcoin Poker Sites worth the Risk?
Personally, I do not feel Bitcoin poker sites are the best way to go about depositing and withdrawing funds over the internet. While its decentralized nature keeps it cost-effective, it also creates a volatile atmosphere that is too unpredictable receive a recommendation from me. However, I do believe this payment method will become more widely accepted, and more secure, as time goes on.