The popularity of bitcoin has opened up a whole new gambling market, geared for those who wish to use cryptocurrency to gamble online – this guide explains the risks involved.
A New, Risky Marketplace
Gambling sites that accept bitcoin deposits are popping up left and right. For customers (you and me), it’s important to be cautious when entering a market that has a bunch of new companies in it. Plenty of them will eventually fold since there can be only a certain amount of winners (and as I explain in this article, possibly no winners in the bitcoin-only market).
As a result, it’s almost a guarantee that some sites will leave with their customers’ money. This has happened multiple times among ”standard” gambling sites, and there’s no reason it wouldn’t happen in the cryptocurrency gambling world as well.
Furthermore, most bitcoin gambling websites have no licenses. There are no regulators or jurisdictions looking over their shoulders, which inevitably leads to foul play. In general, no matter how big of a bitcoin shill you are, I recommend caution when considering gambling with bitcoins.
Betting sites that accept bitcoins can be split into two categories: bitcoin-only sites and standard gambling sites that have added bitcoin as one of their banking options. For those who insist upon using bitcoin, the safer approach is to join an experienced site with a long history in the latter category.
5Dimes.eu is an excellent example of a site with a long history in the U.S. online gambling market, good betting lines (including ”reduced juice” bets for which the house edge is lower than in standard bets), extensively covered betting markets and bet types. They’ve recently started accepting bitcoin deposits and are a much needed legitimate operator in the bitcoin gambling world.
In fact, there’s little a bitcoin-only gambling site can offer its customers that a reputable site like 5Dimes couldn’t. As mentioned, 5Dimes covers all sorts of betting markets extensively (especially U.S. sports like football, basketball and baseball), and offers casino and poker games as well (no other U.S. bitcoin betting site offers poker games with lots of players so it’s difficult to find opponents if you sign-up at those), and have served their customers professionally for 15+ years now.
What is the advantage of joining betting sites that accept bitcoin exclusively? There’s no advantage. They gained some momentum because none of the long-running, legitimate betting sites would take bitcoin seriously, but once other legitimate online betting sites decide to follow 5Dimes’ example and add cryptocurrency to their selection of banking methods, it will be difficult for bitcoin-only sites to succeed.
No regulation, license or jurisdiction:
There’s nobody to govern or audit their operations, and there’s no proven history of them serving customers with respect. They have little poker traffic (at best!) and a low amount of casino games and betting markets (relatively).
Bitcoin site owners argue that money transactions are faster and cheaper than they are at standard sites, but again, now that there are legit gambling websites accepting bitcoin deposits, the argument holds no ground. I recommend staying away from bitcoin-only sites altogether.
Also, if you compare bitcoin to other deposit methods, the ”cheap and instant” aspect of it is not unique for bitcoin – a simple credit or debit card deposit will do the same (in most cases). Many internet gambling websites outside of the US allow you to both deposit and withdraw money with a credit or a debit card for free and instantly. Most e-wallet transactions (such as Paypal, Neteller and Skrill transactions) between an e-wallet account and a gambling account are free as well, although e-wallets may charge a fee for deposits to or withdrawals from the e-wallet account.
The only market where Bitcoin gambling sites made things easier (initially) was the U.S. market which lacks banking options that are cheap and instant. If you’re unable to deposit with a card (credit/debit/pre-paid), you’re left with the option of depositing via a money transfer service such as Western Union or MoneyGram, and the transactions could potentially cost tens of (or sometimes 100+) dollars depending on the transaction amount – plus, money transfer cashouts may take a couple of business days to process.
Even if you were able to deposit with a credit card in the U.S. market, not all sites allow withdrawals back to the card, forcing you to withdraw the money as a check, and that may take anywhere from a week to a month at reputable sites (although many sites allow one free check cashout per month).
5Dimes has started accepting bitcoin gambling deposits, and others are likely to follow at some point, there’s no advantage to joining bitcoin-only sites even for U.S. customers. (Customers outside of the U.S. have so many legitimate bitcoin-friendly options that joining bitcoin-only sites makes even less sense.)