It’s been something of a non-starter in the industry for quite some time now, but the question of the use of cryptocurrency in poker still keeps cropping up. And if we’re completely honest, we can understand why. Never has there been an industry more primed for the use of cryptocurrency than the betting and online gaming industry.
So why has the industry been so slow to embrace what could be a complete game-changer for both players and the providers who serve them? Before we get to that, let’s first take a quick look at the current state of affairs in the poker and gaming industry.
The state of poker
Poker has never been more popular than it is today. Both the live game and its online counterpart are enjoying an unprecedented boom that has made it attractive to investors. In fact, the profile of poker itself has risen so much that it’s no longer considered a game played only in smoky casinos and backrooms of bars. These days, poker has a much cleaner image with people from all walks of life taking up the game as a hobby.
This boom is in large part thanks to the online game which has given players access to poker rooms regardless of their location. Where once a player had to drive several hours to find a live game, they can now play on their favorite platform.
Photo credit: 888 Poker — Caption – Online poker is fast becoming a global industry
With such massive growth in the industry year on year, why does there seem to be a reluctance to embrace blockchain and cryptocurrency?
Online poker is doing just fine as is
Understandably, there are those within the industry who feel that platforms that provide online poker are prime candidates for the use of cryptocurrency due to their phenomenal success. But it's not quite as straightforward as they would have you believe. For starters, the fact that the online poker industry is booming at the moment means that providers have invested well in the best security measures. Not only is a player’s money secure, but their gaming data and personal information is closely guarded.
Since their formation, many of the industry heavyweights have worked tirelessly to earn the trust of their players. This was done chiefly by guaranteeing absolute security on the platform. Underhand tactics by rogue players are punishable by outright bans, while there is never any question regarding the security of a player’s winnings.
Then there is also the stop/start nature of the industry’s flirtations with blockchain technology. There have been countless poker crypto startups that have failed to gain traction in the industry. And often this is despite the fact that big name players have given their full backing to the project.
It seems that players are reluctant to change and, as a result, the industry is less than eager to fix something that simply isn’t broken. But should they make the change there could be significant benefits to all involved.
The benefits of embracing cryptocurrency
This is of course one of the most significant benefits. In online poker rooms players must verify their identity if they are to play for cash. This means that poker platforms store a great deal of player data. Now, as you know, we just mentioned that these platforms are quite adept at protecting the data of their players. But this doesn’t change the fact that some players might prefer to keep their personal information off-site.
With cryptocurrency, the platform only needs to verify the player’s public key for their funds. This means that the security of the player’s funds is then in their own hands with the likes of multi-signature wallets adding that extra level of security they might require. We believe this to be a quite significant benefit, but we can understand how some players would prefer the platform take on this responsibility.
There are many reasons why a player may wish to remain anonymous or have their location kept a closely guarded secret. They may have considerable winnings that they prefer their friends don’t know about, or they could be from a region that considers online poker a grey area.
Whatever the reasons, cryptocurrency allows the player to remain completely anonymous should they wish to do so. While some might disagree, we feel that there’s no reason why this could be a bad thing for the poker industry. Once a player abides by the rules of the platform, there’s really no issue with them remaining anonymous.
Faster access to funds
Anyone who has tried to withdraw online funds to their back account will understand the pain of banking delays. There’s simply no reason why a withdrawal should take as many as ten working days. Cryptocurrency, as you are well aware, completely removes any delays from the process, offering players instant access to funds.
It’s important to note here that the delays in traditional withdrawal methods are rarely the fault of the poker provider. In most cases, they process transactions immediately. It’s the banks that delay the process. Interestingly, there’s rarely any delay with processing deposits to a bank. Read into that what you will.
Saving on transaction fees
Yes, it’s another issue we have with banks – transaction fees. With staff overheads to cover, banks are often forced to charge exorbitant fees on transactions. Not only that, but they’ll often offer exchange rates that are slightly skewed in their favor.
If players were to use cryptocurrency, it would negate the need for exchange rates of any kind and help cut down on those transaction fees that are among the charges we need to stop paying. Yes, there will always be a need to pay fees of some kind (nothing is free), but the automated nature of blockchain technology means that we can keep these to a minimum.
As you can see, the benefits of making the change to cryptocurrency far outweigh any perceived disadvantages. However, convincing players that making this change is in their best interests seems to be a challenge that very few of the poker industry’s biggest platforms are willing to accept, at least just yet. Hopefully, in time, players will come to realize that cryptocurrency is their best option but until then it looks as if the status quo will remain.