We are living in a golden age of online gambling. There's simply never been a better time for sports betting worldwide. Huge leaps forward in global broadband access and an explosion in the number of online bookmakers mean you can follow the sport of your choosing regardless of physical location and be sure of having plenty of options to profit from your sporting passions.
The last six years has also seen the emergence of Bitcoin – a brand new digital cryptocurrency and payment platform that promises to change the whole nature of how we look at money. The good news about its arrival is that it's increasingly accepted as a deposit and withdrawal method in bookmakers worldwide.
In this article, we'll take an in-depth look at the subject of Bitcoin sports betting and cover everything you need to know to take advantage of this revolutionary new option.
Let's start with a quick look at the question of whether using Bitcoin is a gamble in itself and what the legal situation is around the world.
Betting On Bitcoin
Since its invention by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto back in 2008, the rise of Bitcoin has been accompanied by two prominent characteristics:
- Extreme volatility in terms of exchange rates: 2011 and 2013 both saw periods of extreme volatility for Bitcoin that gave it an early reputation as a high-danger investment option that has persisted despite its recent relative stability in relation to the U.S. Dollar.
- A series of high-profile scandals: Use of Bitcoin as a payment method was a prominent feature of the notorious Silk Road website and the last couple of years has also seen the highly suspicious collapse of one of Bitcoin's largest exchanges in Mt. Gox.
It's an interesting question. Use of Bitcoin is a double-edged sword. There is a degree of inherent volatility at play but you could make the same charge against any other currency or store of value – take the huge fluctuations over the years in the price of gold or the dollar versus the yen as a comparison.
Sports betting fans are famously comfortable with the concept of risk and the slight uncertainty Bitcoin brings with it – along with the prospect of gaining extra returns if the market movements are in your favour – will actually be an attraction for some depending on their appetite for risk.
We should also point out that you're under no obligation to maintain your winnings in Bitcoin so it is a relatively straightforward process to minimise your exposure by cashing out to the currency of your choice on a regular basis.
The risk of storing your precious Bitcoins with providers who may or may not be there in the morning is also substantially diminishing with the emergence of a series of reputable wallet providers such as Coinbase who are backed by high-profile investors.
Apply the same level of caution as you would in any other area of your financial life and there is no reason to fear using Bitcoin for your sports betting.
One aspect of sports betting with Bitcoin that is however a constant source of concern to new gamblers is the subject of regulatory compliance and that's where we'll turn our attention to next.
Legal And Regulatory Issues With Bitcoin Sports Betting Around The Globe
Although associated with some less than savoury corners of the internet in its brief lifetime to date, there is nothing inherently dubious about Bitcoin from a legal perspective.
A handful of prominent academics have theorized that Bitcoin may be outlawed at some stage in the future but the list of countries that have actually deemed its use illegal to date is tiny: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ecuador, Russia and Vietnam.
The real question in most territories is a regulatory one and here the approach taken from country to country varies widely. Let's look at some prominent examples.
Sports Betting With Bitcoin In US
Bitcoin is officially classified as a "convertible decentralised virtual currency" by the U.S. Treasury and the IRS has recently issued guidance relating to it for American taxpayers.
It's also increasingly being seriously examined by major American financial institutions and investors as an option for the future. Overall, the climate for Bitcoin in America is extremely positive.
In terms of sports betting with Bitcoin in the US, the problem is on the gambling side of the equation. Sports betting is illegal across most of the country with the notable exceptions of Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana.
Bitcoin Betting In UK
Bitcoin is legal in the UK and treated as "private money" with any profits or losses resulting from its use being subject to capital gains tax.
Its use for online sports betting is uncomplicated and problem free. The UK has a strong gambling history and is home to some of the biggest online bookmakers in the world with their operations being regulated by the Gambling Commission under the Gambling Act 2005. Mobile football betting is a particularly popular option in the UK with a full range of wagers on offer.
Bitcoin Sports Betting In Europe
The situation across mainland Europe varies on a country by country basis but Bitcoin's use is prohibited virtually nowhere outside of the obvious exception of Russia.
The European Central Bank has advised that new financial regulation may be necessary to govern its use on a regional level but left matters there for the time being.
There's good news on the gambling front as well. The freedom to provide services enshrined in the European Union's internal market effectively makes it illegal for any European country to prohibit its residents from gambling online but regulatory requirements differ slightly from country to country.
Overall, you shouldn't expect to find any difficulty using Bitcoin to bet on sports anywhere in the EU.
Sports Betting With Bitcoin In Asia
Asian countries have been slightly more quick to attempt to regulate Bitcoin to date with Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Taiwan and Thailand all imposing either outright bans or serious restrictions on its use.
Due to Bitcoin's inherently fluid digital nature, it will be interesting to see how well these attempts to clamp down on its use fare in the future.
The legal status of online sports betting varies considerably across Asia. Places such as the Philippines support large well-regulated gambling markets whereas it is completely banned in other countries such as Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and China. Be sure to doublecheck your own country's local laws carefully if you are operating in that part of the world.
Three Pros Of Using Bitcoin For Sports Betting
Bitcoin makes a natural fit for online sports betting for a variety of reasons. Let's pick out three of the more obvious ones:
- Instantaneous worldwide transfer of funds: Bitcoin allows you to step outside the traditional banking system and wave goodbye to infuriating waits of three working days or more on transaction processing.
- Negligible fees: The fees associated with Bitcoin transactions are so low as to be practically non-existent compared with other payment channels.
- Potential for exchange rate gain: Time your cashouts right and you stand to taste the upside of the cryptocurrency's occasional penchant for rapid fluctuations in value.
Three Cons Of Using Bitcoin For Sports Betting
No payment solution is perfect of course and it's only fair to point out that there are some inherent disadvantages of Bitcoin that may deter some gamblers. Chief among them are the following:
- Volatility: Our third plus point above has a natural flip side in your increased exposure to currency fluctuation risk by using Bitcoin.
- Level of technical knowledge required: Though its ease of use is steadily improving, Bitcoin still requires a base level of technological savviness that may be off-putting for some users.
- Level of online acceptance: It's very much early days in Bitcoin's life as a virtual currency and it is a still a long way from being a universally accepted medium of exchange.
Examples Of Using Bitcoin To Bet On Sports
We've talked a lot so far about Bitcoin itself but what about the actual sports you might want to use it to bet on? Here's a quick list of some of the main markets available to you:
- Betting on horse racing using your Bitcoin wallet: Online bookmakers offer a full range of markets on top-tier racing events such as the Aintree Grand National, Melbourne Gold Cup and Cheltenham Racing Festival.
- Using Bitcoin to bet on tennis: The ATP circuit – along with the four annual Masters events – throws up enticing punting opportunities throughout the calendar year.
- Get going with Bitcoin for gambling on golf: Whether you're backing Tiger to pull off a sporting rebirth or wagering on McIlroy dominating the remainder of the decade, there'll be a market available online for you to use Bitcoin to put your money where your mouth is.
- Bitcoin betting with American sports: Legislation may be tight in America but there's nothing to stop gamblers based outside the US from enjoying a flutter on the NBA or NFL whenever the fancy takes them.
Bitcoin Sports Betting: Funding Alternatives
Bitcoin is of course far from the only funding option available to you for your sports betting account. You'll almost certainly want to also consider a traditional credit card such as Mastercard or Visa for the flexibility and security they offer.
We hope the article above has got you seriously thinking about using Bitcoin as a deposit and withdrawal method for your future online sports betting.
It's an interesting option to add to your payment portfolio and just possibly a tool that will shape all of our financial futures so getting on board early with its use could be very much to your longterm advantage.
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