It’s been something of stop/start topic in recent months and even years, but nevertheless, it’s a topic that refuses to go away. Yes, we’re talking about cryptocurrency in the world of igaming and whether or not it will ever truly take off.
Why hasn’t the industry fully embraced cryptocurrency?
Some might call it fear while others might call is a sense of self-preservation, but either way, the world of igaming isn’t quite ready for wholesale changes to how they accept and payout cash.
To be fair, it’s easy enough to see why. Take Bitcoin for example. The amount of drama that we can see in relation to the currency in one small 50-hour window is enough to make even the most adventurous of igaming provider feel a little nervous.
The volatile nature of Bitcoin in particular leaves those who rely heavily on traditional banking methods with doubts over crypto in general. And there’s no industry that relies more on traditional banking than the igaming industry. Interestingly enough, while igaming is a relatively new industry, the majority of the biggest providers have actually been around for quite some time and typically they take an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ attitude towards payments. And understandably so.
What about the players?
For the most part, players seem to be quite happy with how things are going right now. Sure, there are those that would prefer to make deposits using their chosen cryptocurrency (more on that later) but generally speaking they seem content with the current state of affairs.
So how do we know this? Well, there have been several decentralized poker and igaming platforms created using blockchain technology. Some have created and used their own tokens for games while others make use of existing cryptocurrencies.
However, while these platforms always create a buzz when first announced, none have gone on to challenge the existing platforms and providers. This would suggest that either the platforms aren’t all they’re cracked up to be or the interest simply isn’t there.
Despite the many advantages that cryptocurrency offers a player in terms of privacy and security, it’s possible that there is still a reticence among the gaming community to change to alternative digital payment methods.
How about the industry heavyweights?
Interestingly enough, there are still ways that a determined crypto fan can fund their igaming digitally. For example, some major providers in the industry such as PokerStars, allow their players to use a Neteller account to purchase play money chips. This is significant because Neteller actually allows account holders to use cryptocurrency to top up their accounts. So while the platform isn’t breaking away from its traditional methods of payment, it’s not restricting those who want to use cryptocurrency to deposit funds to their accounts.
For many, this is a win win situation as the provider doesn’t necessarily need to take any risks with changing their payment methods. Meanwhile, the players can take advantage of Neteller’s service.
And for now, this seems to be as far as many igaming providers are willing to go. In fact, some haven’t even gone that far and their players have no cryptocurrency options whatsoever.
What the future holds
With the global igaming industry set to hit a market value of $1 billion by 2021, the industry is going from strength to strength and that’s without the need to rely heavily on blockchain or cryptocurrency.
But as the benefits of both blockchain technology and the use of cryptocurrency become clear, it seems that it’s only a matter of time before players finally start to change their attitudes.
Instant payouts, more security, and complete privacy are hard to ignore particularly when other industries have already begun to reap the benefits of blockchain. However, as noted earlier, the future of cryptocurrency within the igaming industry relies not on the startups and poker ICOs but on the existing providers. Should those industry heavyweights make their move and embrace cryptocurrency, the industry as a whoel will no doubt change with them. Not only that but we may also see a knock-on effect with other non-gaming related industries.
So will we see cryptocurrency in igaming in the not too distant future? We wouldn’t bet against it. Providers such as PokerStars have already made it clear that they’re willing to allow their players use a roundabout fix for using cryptocurrency to fund their games through Neteller. The next and most logical step would be to accept the currency on the platform itself. And like we said, it’s something we wouldn’t bet against happening sooner rather than later.