Bitcoin, which has been all over the news of late, is a digital, virtual or cryptocurrency. While it is not the only currency of this type (others like Litecoin, Etherum and Zcash have followed), it is by far the most well-known. It first came to prominence in 2010 and is now used by millions of people around the world.
Bitcoin And The IGaming Industry
As Bitcoin has become more widely accepted as a payment method, it is only natural that online casinos have been created to accept the cryptocurrency. Currently, however, most of the major online casino brands in the UK do not accept Bitcoin. In fact, the majority of online casinos that do accept it have been set up with a specific emphasis on Bitcoin.
One issue facing both players and operators is the fact the rate of exchange for Bitcoin is so volatile. For example, the current exchange rate (18/02/2018) for Bitcoin to GBP is 1BTC = £7,911.60. Just two weeks ago (Feb 5th) 1BTC was valued £4,291 and the day before that (Feb 4th) 1BTC was priced at £5,637. As you can see, Bitcoin is susceptible to sudden drops and rises. If, for example, you were playing a long session of online blackjack overnight on February 4th, your winnings could have been over 20% less valuable by the time you cashed out on February 5th.
The attraction of a ‘Bitcoin Online Casino’ ties in with the benefits of using the cryptocurrency itself: the anonymity of using Bitcoin, which allows you to move and exchange money without revealing your identity; the extra layers of security offered by the cryptocurrency; and the fact that there are no taxes or transaction fees. For someone looking to earn Bitcoins, Bitcoin gambling offers a pleasant and easy way, if there are wins, of course. Processing times are also instant, a big plus, whereas you might have to wait a few days for withdrawn funds to show up in your bank when using credit/debit cards.
However, it must be pointed out that UK players at regular online casinos (those major operators who do not accept Bitcoin) rarely cite having an issue with the above. Security of your cash and personal details is paramount, and the majority do not charge transaction fees on deposits/withdrawals.
Above all, the major advantage cited by Bitcoin online casinos is the lower house edge. In some reviews it is suggested that Bitcoin casinos operate a house edge of 0.5-2%, whereas regular online casinos operate 3-15%. This statement is unrepresentative of the truth. For example, Betfair Casino, one of the major operators in the UK, offer games like Perfect Pairs Blackjack with an RTP (Return to Player) of 99.64%, making a house edge of 0.36%.
Software And Games At Bitcoin Casinos
The choice of games at a Bitcoin casino is more or less the same as at a regular online casino. You will find games from big software providers like NetEnt, Evolution and Betsoft. Popular titles like Starburst, Gladiator and Boomanji. Table games are also available, with all the usual options – roulette, blackjack, poker, baccarat etc.
You will also find some, such as Betcoin, who offer sportsbook and live casino options. The sportsbook covers most major sports – football, basketball, tennis – but many lack the option to bet on horse racing.
Aside from the fact you will be betting with Bitcoin, there are no huge differences in the way the Bitcoin casinos operate. No special software is required to play the casino games, with most available to play online. Some players have reported problems with using a Firefox browser on some sites.
Mobile gaming is available for Android and iOS users. Just like regular online casinos, some Bitcoin casinos will require you to download an app, whereas others are just a download version of the regular site. In general, the mobile apps have a smaller choice of games than the desktop sites.
Deposit And Withdrawals At Bitcoin Casinos
The first thing you will need to deposit is a Bitcoin Wallet. The original wallet is called Bitcoin Core, but there are other options available. Once you have signed up to the Bitcoin Casino, proceed to the cashier as you would in a typical online casino. The cashier will hold a unique Bitcoin address. It will look something like this:
You can then use the address to transfer the money from your Bitcoin Wallet to the casino.
*Mobile users can often use a QR Code to transfer Bitcoin.
Once you have set up a Bitcoin Wallet, you will have a corresponding Bitcoin address similar to that held by the casino. To withdraw, you simply reverse the steps through the Cashier, i.e. send the money to your Bitcoin address.
Obviously, not all deposits and withdrawals can be made in full Bitcoins. The cryptocurrency can be broken down into units. These include:
- dBTC = 1 tenth of a Bitcoin (approx. £800)
- cBTC = 1 hundredth of a Bitcoin (approx. £80)
- mBTC = 1 thousandth of a Bitcoin (approx. £8)
- uBTC = 1 millionth of a Bitcoin (approx. £0.80)
The minimum deposit for a Bitcoin casino varies. Some such as Bitcasino.io, are set at 1 mBTC. Bitcasino.io has a minimum withdrawal amount of 6 mBTC, roughly equal to £50 today. Others, such as Betcoin.Ag, have a minute deposit amount of 0.01 mBTC and a minimum withdrawal of 0.05 BTC.
The majority of Bitcoin casinos do not have a maximum withdrawal or deposit limit.
Due to the volatility of Bitcoin, this information above is subject to change. It is highly recommended that you carefully check the terms and conditions before you deposit.
Bonuses At Bitcoin Casinos
Generally, bonuses and promotions at Bitcoin casinos operate within the same parameters as a regular online casino. The Welcome Bonus will often consist of a 100-110% match of your first deposit. So, for example, you might see a bonus from Vegas Casino offering a 110% matched deposit up to 1BTC. As you might expect, wagering requirements (rollover) are in place before the bonus money can be withdrawn. They normally match those set in regular online casinos, for example, Bitcasino.io has wagering requirements of X35.
Please also be aware that some casinos will only permit a specific number of games – with a special emphasis on slots – to be counted towards wagering requirements. Again, check the terms.
Sometimes Bitcoin casinos may offer raffles for new players to win Bitcoin. For example, 50 players win a share of 1 BTC (20 mBTC each). Bonuses and special promotions are featured predominantly on the casinos’ homepages, with just a few clicks necessary to get to the details.
Safety & Privacy
While it is often cited that using Bitcoin allows you to remain anonymous, this is not necessarily factual. All Bitcoin transactions are recorded on the blockchain, which is a kind of public ledger for the transactions in the cryptocurrency. Anyone can access this information, although it is improbable that they could pinpoint that it came from your account.
Most reputable Bitcoin casinos will require personal information such as addresses and email addresses to sign up. It is a fair assessment that authorities, certainly in the UK, will take steps to regulate this in the future to ensure against money laundering and fraud.
Provably Fair Gaming
Provably Fair Gaming, or provable fair gaming, is the tool used on many Bitcoin casino sites to prove that games are fair to the players. It basically works that the players can access the algorithm used to determine the randomness of the game. The casino will ‘publish’ each transaction (dice roll, slot spin etc.) and players can see how it changes.
This means that Bitcoin casinos do not need to have third-party scrutiny to ensure fairness, because the players themselves can see the data. However, it should be pointed out that not all Bitcoin casinos use Provably Fair, and some operators will have some games that use it and some that don’t. Could the casinos be cheating players? Well, Provably Fair works to show an honest approach, but shady operators could likely still mislead or otherwise take advantage of players.
While Provably Fair Gaming is an innovative idea, the vast majority of regular online casinos (certainly major UK operators) will always provide players with access to information on fairness and randomness. They will be tested by bodies like eCOGRA, an independent entity (based in London) who, among other things like protecting minors and fraud, ensure fairness through the testing of RNG (random number generators) from online casinos. The rules section of each individual game will usually show RTP (Return to Player), which is essentially the house edge.
Bitcoin In The UK
Bitcoin has been very prominent the financial news around the world for a number of years now. Unfortunately, not all the headlines have been positive. It has been called a ‘noxious poison’, with many critics citing that the ‘Bitcoin Bubble’ will inevitably burst. Whether or not these predictions prove to be true remains to be seen. However, there is a general consensus that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will be ‘clamped-down’ on in future. The ECB (European Central Bank) has also recently stated that ‘resolute ring-fencing measures might be needed.’
What does all this mean for Bitcoin casino players? Nothing, yet. Although there is a real chance that many of those advantages of playing at a Bitcoin casino might be soon tempered with regulation. Players must be aware of the fact that one negative word from a politician or investor could cause a big fall in the cryptocurrency and, with it, your casino bankroll. For example, on 6th February Bitcoin lost 16% of its value in a matter of hours after Augustin Carstens, head of Bank International Settlements (BIS), called it a ‘Ponzi scheme’.
It also must be mentioned that the vast majority of specialist Bitcoin casinos are inaccessible to UK players and, crucially, to date there are no Bitcoin casinos regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. Two major UK online casinos that accept Bitcoin payments are NetBet Casino and Mansion Casino. To deposit, however, you must use Neteller to make the transaction. It is also worth noting that NetBet allows you to withdraw in Bitcoin (through Neteller), whereas Mansion do not currently offer this option.
Is It Worth Playing At A Bitcoin Online Casino?
While there are lots of reported advantages of playing at a Bitcoin online casino, some of them may be overstated:
- While supporters of Bitcoin are keen to cite its safety from theft/fraud, to date there have been no high-profile cases of data theft from regular online casinos. Your financial details are kept safe with the latest data encryption technology, which is highly regulated – there is no need to worry.
- Provably Fair Gaming, while innovative, is much the same as the oversight and testing from regulatory bodies in the UK and not everyone understands the complex algorithms displayed.
- Transaction times are quicker, certainly when compared to processing credit cards. But most regular online casinos can do this in matter of days. Other methods – PayPal, Neteller – can be much quicker.
- The biggest overstated advantage is the fact the Bitcoin has no transaction fees. Most UK online casinos absorb any transaction fees. This is only an issue for unregulated casinos operating outside of the UK.
Indeed, the main advantage is simply entrenched in the use of the cryptocurrency itself, i.e. you may want to play at a Bitcoin casino because you already have a supply of Bitcoin – or are hoping to win a big jackpot and this would give you entrée to Bitcoin without the inherent mining or exchanging. At this point, the major casinos online don’t accept Bitcoin. So for someone who is looking for a traditional casino online, with all the power, reputation, and security they offer, it might be best to search for one of the well-known casino brands.
Options To Exchange Bitcoin For Pounds
There are numerous options for you to exchange Bitcoin into GBP if you want to play at one of the major UK online casinos. However, just as with any exchange mechanism, you will want to be sure that they are trustworthy and offer a competitive rate. As mentioned, Neteller is offering transactions to be made in Bitcoin. Three reputable organisations that work with Neteller are BitPanda, CoinCorner and Local Bitcoins. The latter works on a peer to peer method, with most buyers usually happy to make a deposit directly into your bank account as well.
As the vast majority of UK online casinos accept Neteller payments, you should have no problem depositing in GBP.
Other major organisations that exchange Bitcoin for GBP include Kraken, Coin Floor and Bittylicious.
Part of the thrill of playing at a casino is the uncertainty of whether you will win or lose. For many, the uncertainty over Bitcoin’s future is another risk to be added to be added to the games of chance within a casino.
In the UK, players can sign up to an online casino safe in the knowledge that they are protected by bodies such as the UK Gambling Commission. The scrutiny placed on casino operators is a good thing for players as it means that player protection and fairness is put above everything else.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with playing at a Bitcoin Casino, the fact remains that they are not regulated to the same standard as the major operators in the UK. It is probable that most major operators will eventually accept Bitcoin once the cryptocurrency becomes regulated and stops displaying such volatility.
For the moment however, it is recommended that players with Bitcoin make an exchange for GBP in order to play at a fully regulated, reputable online casino. The table below shows some of the best UK online casinos in terms of offering bonuses, game choice and player safety:
*T&C apply” – each offer may include additional conditions. The applicable casino’s T&C apply for each offer below and we encourage you to review them. Click “Get Bonus” for more information