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Fishing With BitCoin: How Cryptocurrencies Could Change Online Poker Forever

07/03/2016 17:34 GMT | Updated 08/03/2017 10:12 GMT

Ever since the (almost) immediate closure of of live wagering on poker within the US, it's been a difficult ride for the game of Hold 'Em to prosper. Consisting of a predominantly US line up, the faces of professional poker have been forced into playing free money games to stream and coach from within the American border.

The ban, which was swept into enforcement with the SAFE Port Act, a bill signed by President Bush in 2006 to enhance security at US air and seaports. Coming attached to the bill was a provision pertaining to online poker, which outlawed all "unlawful internet gambling".

Since then, a complete blackout has stopped US players from accessing real money servers, forcing many into the rowdy free ring games. While the sociological reaction to this could see the "average" player become more loose, it is leaving many US citizens bored of playing with Monopoly money. These days, anyone operating an internet-enabled device may not use it to gamble with real money outside of Nevada, New Jersey or Delaware.

Now, a multitude of companies are launching, offering a cryptocurrency equivalent to some of our favourite poker rooms. So, now, many potential American punters are looking into the increasingly likeliness of using BitCoin to gamble in casinos. Many of them, using the same back-end software that powers some of the more familiar online clients, offer very familiar and professional-looking clients.

A Google search for poker rooms and casinos that accept BitCoin brings up a genuinely outrageous number of results. Because of the "crypto" element of the term "cryptocurrency", it can be disconcerting when trusting third parties with your hard-earned money. Yet, regardless, there appear to have been very few fraudulent complaints as yet.

Subsequently, it may now be possible - and, potentially, legal - for American citizens to use these poker rooms without being resigned to using their own currency (USD). The huge amount of popularity that is currently being injected into these poker rooms comes from three very pro points; 1) players can deposit instantly, 2) withdraw almost instantly, and 3) gamble anonymously on the internet.

Where current top online poker rooms have been forced to shut down any real money aspects of their clients, newer, casinos that use cryptocurrencies, including BitCoin, might not even ask where a player is from. Chris Ayre, a familiar face in both brick and mortar casinos and their online counterparts, predicted the switch to BTC for at least one major operator back in 2013 and, months later, BetCoin, the first, was launched online.

The grey area in which these companies operate could well be a concern for some, if not most. The majority of these sites operate off-shore, which leaves them neglected by any solid regulation, which could lead to corruption at any moment. While all might claim that players' funds are secure, there is no third party ombudsman to guarantee that fact as yet.

However, technically, as BitCoin is yet to become a regulated currency within the US, providing a player's state doesn't have particular law pertaining to the illegality of live wagering in a poker site, then they have nothing to worry about. Of course, all big poker companies will considered this as a potential solution to their problems (considering the huge drop in their stock following the signing of the SAFE Port Act) but for some reason are yet to do so.

Why? Who knows. But, you would have thought, the guys at the top (who are yet to be able to tax profits from BTC trades) would be applying pressure before it runs away without them.