Unless you’re living under a rock you’ll have heard a lot about cryptocurrencies lately. Probably Bitcoin, but possibly a number of other coins or currencies too.
Bitcoin is the biggest name in the crypto universe, but it’s a growing scene. For the moment Bitcoin is the most commonly accepted cryptocurrency at gambling sites and we’ll largely stick to it here, though what we say can usually be more generally applied.
1 – Just crypto might be bad news
Cryptocurrency has had something of a chequered history. Because it was seen as a way of making untraceable payments, the currencies had a natural attraction for criminals. That reputation has largely gone. Casino sites are starting to turn up that make a big deal of offering crypto as a payment option, but a site that offers ONLY crypto and nothing else is one that you should examine in detail before you hand over your keys – most sites offer crypto and more established methods of payment.
2 – The same rules apply
If you use crypto as a way to escape legality then you will also escape any legal protections that you might have. Don’t gamble at sites – in crypto or anything else – unless it is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission with an up-to-date licence and unless you fulfil all the requirements to play at a site. This is a boring recurring theme from us, we know, but it needs to be repeated.
3 – Down as well as up
Cryptocurrencies are traded. A lot of the interest in the likes of Bitcoin came initially because it increased massively in value in a very short period of time. Early adopters were able to make serious amounts of money just by buying a currency that shot up in value in a way that established currencies no longer do – in fact, it became a classic bubble. Crypto is much more stable now, and much more like a real-world currency, in that it is regulated and legalised, but the value can still fluctuate so you need to keep an eye on and manage your accounts in crypto.
4 – I lost my password!
Cryptocurrencies only exist in the digital world. They can exist online, or in hardware, but there is no piece of paper or metal inscribed with a value for you to put in a safe or wallet. We’re all capable of losing our wallets and dropping a tenner off the side of a ferry, but crypto demands that you carefully protect and cherish passwords and pin codes – don’t lose your keys!
5 – Buying your coin
Crypto does have advantages. Because it’s a digital-only currency it is designed for the digital world, and in some ways, that means it makes sense in digital environments. You still need to convert some real-world currency though, unless you’re paid in Bitcoin, so you have to buy from an exchange or through a wallet. Please use reputable, reviewed sites to do this and do some research before you start – getting ripped off is less of a danger these days, but the poor value and poor service are not.
6 – A good wallet
Bitcoin needs to be “carried” around in the same way that a wad of banknotes does, albeit virtually. For this, you need a wallet. These aren’t bits of leather, but web or software or hardware tools in which your bitcoin is stored, from which you make payments, and into which you receive payments. This is not something we can cover in-depth here, but it’s something you should research in-depth before you decide which wallet to use.
6 – High speed
Bitcoin is digital and moves at the speed of computer data. That means it is instant. In the casino or in the shop, your transactions – if they’re handled online – should take place instantly. This is fantastic news. It’s also not so great if you’re trying to slow down your gambling, so always remember to keep yourself safe, and never use the anonymity of bitcoin to get around any blocks or exclusions on gambling sites.
7 – The three big ones
There is a growing number of cryptocurrencies. New ones spring up all the time, often branded in some way, but we think there are three that are established and safe enough to be used regularly in online casinos. They are Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. Beyond this, we think you should make sure you’ve done your research on a site.
8 – Fees and conversions
Bitcoin is fast and often cheap to use online, but it’s not always free. Most games are still priced in traditional currencies, and you’ll often need to convert your coin to cash to play at a casino site. Do check out if it’s better value to do that by depositing in bitcoin and then accepting the casino’s conversions – and possible withdrawal fees – or you should convert somewhere else and then deposit in cash.
9 – The real world
If online gambling has bad effects they are going to happen to you in the real world. One of the issues for problem gamblers is a belief that what happens online is somehow separate from the everyday world of bills and responsibilities and rent, or is used as an escape from that world. There’s a danger that bitcoin, which is less easy to spend in the “real world” might feed into this illusion, and it is an illusion, so don’t let bitcoin shortcut any good work you’re doing to keep yourself safe online.
10 – Just a gimmick?
One of the reasons why we’ve published this blog is because we enjoy finding out about things and giving our readers good quality information. Another reason is that crypto and bitcoin are real buzzwords at the moment. Fashions and fads are a natural honeypot for bad actors. When people counterfeit branded goods they counterfeit the latest craze. So be aware that sticking the prefix “bit” on something at the moment is a very good way to attract attention to your casino or your game. Make sure that the site you’re using or the game you’re playing is worth using or playing on its own merits, not just because it’s got this exciting name on it.