Have you heard about bitcoins? Some jurisdictions and countries around the world do not allow online gaming, but Bitcoin developers are trying to get around that problem, and many others, by using a decentralized digital currency based on a open-source protocol, making it an alternative currency not linked to a bank or centralized government.
According to the Bitcoin website, the organization first issued "coins" as online currency on January 3, 2009. Now, Bitcoin's person to person, digital currency enables instant payments to people all over the world. The peer-to-peer technology operates with no central authority, but seems to be growing in acceptance.
To use Bitcoin, new "traders" must download the client so it can create a wallet for use in downloading transaction histories. Then you need to actually pay for the bitcoins, currently trading at about $16 each, up from just $10 each less than six-months ago. You can fund your wallet with bitcoins or use them at 700,000 locations worldwide via BitInstant, and you can exchange them for gift cards from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and many other sites, including online gaming.Online Poker with Bitcoins
Switch Poker was the first online site to accept bitcoins as a deposit and withdrawal option. Poker players who were playing online in 2007 may well remember the shutdown of Netteller, the most popular of all online wallets for poker sites. The shutdown, by the US Department of Justice, caused many players (mostly in the US), to have their funds frozen for months - some of which was never recouped.
Where this new type of currency leaves US players at this point is uncertain, but currently the bitcoin has the ability to place playable cash on many poker sites. Unfortunately, most of the larger poker sites still refuse entry to cash games for US players, regardless of their funding options.
Satoshidice isn't really a casino game, It's not craps, like the picture on the website might lead you to believe, but it's certainly a popular online gaming option, with 2.7 million numbers generated so far - each paying when the player's chosen number is higher than "the ghost of Satoshi." I'm not sure whether this game is popular because you can use bitcoins, or because people will bet on anything. It's basically a coin-flip where the operator keeps 1.9 percent of all bets.
According to Satoshidice, the company's average monthly growth rate is over 70 percent and they have now handled over $2 million in total bitcoin bets, leading to a very healthy net income. BitZino is one of the first online casinos to offer a full range of casino games like blackjack and roulette. According to their report, they have handled even more bets than Satoshidice, earning over $10,000 in bitcoin cash on the $600,000+ in wagers. Lucky Bitcoin Casino is another new site that accepts bitcoins. They offer 36 games including slots and video poker. Their minimum chip values are from 0.0010 Bitcoins.
The future of US poker may not be in bitcoin poker sites, but if the US government keeps dragging its collective feet for another year or two, the largest online poker sites may feel the need to re-enter the US market via bitcoins. There are some advantages for the bitcoins beyond the fact that players may remain anonymous.
Currently, depositing money into online gaming sites can be fairly quick, but getting the cash back out often presents a problem. Online sites using bitcoins stress that players can deposit in only a few minutes, and withdraw their bitcoins in almost as fast a fashion, instead of waiting up to a week or more at traditional online gaming sites. And, because the processing fee is tiny (bitZeno's owner Larry Taad says .0031 percent), cashing out each day is feasible.
Bitcoin users should be aware that they will need to have the user software downloaded to their computer, and the transaction history is stored on their computer. And, like traditional online wallets, the user name and password are extremely important. If you lose them - they are gone, and so is your stash of bitcoins. With most poker sites you can retrieve your username and password, just as you can with your banking information at a standard bank. Don't rely on this with your bitcoins!