With each passing year, the cryptocurrency industry builds on the success of the previous year and continues to strengthen its position as a serious alternative to traditional fiat currencies and financial institutions. In the two and a half years since Bitcoin entered the mainstream, achieving those record-level highs of almost $20,000 back in December 2017, cryptocurrency has linked to many other top global industries, creating waves in the luxury art market and even changing the way consumers buy their daily lattes.
Cryptocurrency has also linked to the remarkably lucrative and rapidly growing online gambling market, but despite a few initiatives taking off, we are yet to see any significant signs that cryptocurrency will revolutionise the way people play and win real money online. Is cryptocurrency the future of iGaming or is it a passing fad?
A Safe and Anonymous Form of Currency
As any cryptocurrency enthusiast knows, blockchain technology has a wealth of applications to apply to enhance operations within any global industry. As far as iGaming goes, decentralised currencies have distinct advantages when compared to traditional fiat payment methods. Firstly, it’s a private transactional system. The increased levels of anonymity involved in sending payments across the blockchain or other deep-level transient spectroscopy (DLTS) mean that customers can keep their personal data outside of their gambling activities. Bitcoin itself may not be 100 percent untraceable, but iGaming-preferred currencies like Monero (XMR) offer even higher levels of anonymity.
Another distinct advantage that cryptocurrencies have over other currencies is their level of transparency. Online casino transactions made on the blockchain are fair by their nature; users can see if outcomes are the result of random numbers or if there was tampering with the transactions themselves. That isn’t only good for the customer either, as casinos who operate provably fair games will develop a solid reputation and are much more likely to see their user base expand in a shorter period. Plus, when you factor in things like cryptocurrency not being subject to taxation in certain countries and states (since it’s not recognised as “real” money in these territories), it becomes even more appealing to those players who actively compete in high-stakes games and professional tournaments.
Is it a match made in heaven?
All things considered, cryptocurrency and iGaming seem at first like a match made in heaven. But the reality is that many top brands operating within the online casino gaming sectors have been slow to adapt to and integrate virtual currencies into their platforms. Presently, even the leading cryptocurrency Bitcoin is the only one accepted for real money gaming in a handful of online casinos.
Newer initiatives such as CryptoCoin and Edgeless, which are first and foremost their own currencies, have had more success, as have a few cryptocurrency-only online casinos and poker rooms that have sprung up in the past 12 to 18 months. However, as far as the industry-wide revolution goes, we’re still waiting for those long-term and meaningful changes to happen. There have even been a few steps backwards, as we’ve recently seen in the events playing out in Japan.
TRON Blocks Gambling DApps
Japan may have a global reputation for being open to fintech, but that ultimately has not been extended to online cryptocurrency iGaming activities. The country has a difficult relationship with real money gaming and wagering activities, with the legality of casino gaming, especially, being a contentious issue. For a short time, customers were able to bypass the country’s strict gaming regulations by playing gambling DApps (decentralised apps) running on the TRON blockchain. However, at the end of March, the platform announced that it would comply with Japanese regulations by removing all iGaming-based DApps from its blockchain, including those using the TRONIX (TRX) currency as a form of payment.
In a press release dated March 31, 2018, TRON clarified its willingness to comply with local real money gaming laws and regulations on a worldwide basis, singling out Japan for a special mention. The platform confirmed that it would not “encourage or recommend any gambling DApps regarding the Japanese market,” adding that any developers with a Japanese IP address who create such apps on the platform would be immediately blocked and banned from returning.
So, it seems that despite cryptocurrency and blockchain offering a world of possibilities to the iGaming industry, there is still some way to go before the perception of iGaming changes in certain territories — even those that have embraced decentralised currencies and blockchain tech. Ironically, cryptocurrency could do a lot to improve the perception and reputation of iGaming, especially when it comes to safe gaming practices, and there’s no doubt that it could play a critical role in shaping the industry. Whether government regulations will allow that to happen in every country, however, remains in question.