Bitcoin has grabbed attention globally again in 2017. For some, the digital currency represents a crapshoot-esque way to potentially get rich quick, for others it's the beginning of a complete paradigm shift away from toxic central banking institutions and towards a fairer future with genuinely sound money. Either way, it's captured the imagination of many and there's little evidence to suggest that it's slowing down anytime soon.
Why Use Bitcoin?
Put simply, Bitcoin is a way to send value digitally without asking permission from any authority. Users needn't provide reams of identification documents to set up an account. All they require to send Bitcoin, or fractions thereof, is an internet connection, a receiving address, and a wallet. Currently, we transfer value to another party using a banking service of some kind. Whether it's Paypal, or the Bank of Melbourne, to send cash, we need that institution's permission. We also need to trust said service provider too. With Bitcoin, we do not. We simply trust mathematics which is, after all, provable.
Another perk of Bitcoin is that it's usually cheap and fast to transact. If you've ever sent money from one country to another, you'll know that it can be incredibly expensive. Services like Western Union or interbank transfers often cost a huge percentage of the funds you're trying to send. They also take a long time - usually weeks. Bitcoin changes this. Rather than have your local bank communicate with at least one, but usually several, institutions to transfer funds, cryptocurrency transactions happen in minutes. The fees are paid to the participants that secure the network (known as miners), and these are substantially less than any other option currently in existence. The speed and cost of transactions make Bitcoin and other cryptos ideal for use on the internet, particularly for gambling.
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How to Acquire Bitcoin
There are a few different ways to acquire Bitcoin. However, for the purposes of this article, we'll presume that you're not planning on mining it, and that you don't earn in Bitcoin. To keep things straightforward, we've outlined a couple of ways to get hold of some in exchange for cash.
How you go about buying some Bitcoin will depend on the purpose for which you want to use it. If you have no preference for anonymity, just sign up to a service like CoinBase, and register an account with them. They have various options for funding an account and their user-interface makes the process quick and easy. First time buyers are recommended to try out buying a small amount, and get used to sending it to a private wallet. More on this shortly.
If anonymity is a concern, then it's best to find a peer-to-peer trading option. Platforms like LocalBitcoins offer such services. Be careful when signing up, you want to create an entirely new email address that doesn't use your details when registering. You'll also probably want to use a VPN for all your activity concerning Bitcoin. Many sellers will agree to meet you and swap cash for Bitcoin without requiring any form of ID. There'll likely be a premium to pay for the privilege of keeping yourself from leaving a digital paper trail.
It's important to remember your own safety when meeting someone off the internet to buy or sell something. There have been incidents in the past of muggings, and extortion when making Bitcoin exchanges. Try to arrange somewhere open and public to make your purchase. Do it in open view of other people and don't do anything you're not comfortable with.
Once you have decided which method to use, it's important to set up a wallet. Do this before you actually buy any cryptocurrency. This means you'll be able to get it secured immediately. Don't just rely on an exchange to keep your funds safe. By doing so, you just rendered the biggest selling point of cryptocurrency entirely useless. Bitcoin's inventor, the anonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, designed their protocol to allow users to transact without permission or trust. If you leave your funds with CoinBase, or whichever exchange, then you're no longer the master of your own value and you're essentially continuing to trust a centralised institution with far less regulation than a central bank.
How to Cash in Your Bitcoin
To exchange Bitcoin back to government-issued, "fiat" money, you'll most likely use the same service that you used to buy it. If you used a centralised exchange, you'll send your funds to that platform, and set up a sell order. When this has gone through, you'll receive whichever currency that your account is in (usually US dollars). This can then be sent back to the bank account which you used to fund your initial purchase.
If you were more concerned about anonymity, you can set up a peer-to-peer trade. The process will be the same as buying Bitcoin from the likes of LocalBitcoins. You find someone who wants to buy Bitcoin for cash in your local area, meet up with them, receive your payment, and transfer them the BTC. Once confirmed by the network, you're all done. It's that easy!
Bitcoin Casinos are often Provably Fair
Some Bitcoin casinos claim to be provably fair. Of course, this sounds amazing from the perspective of an online gambler. Using cryptographic hash functions, casinos can prove that the outcome of an event was indeed random, and there was always the possibility that a different event could occur. It's quite confusing and each game and site will use a different method. Let's look at an example of how a lot of simple Bitcoin dice sites calculate their outcomes:
- A secret, random seed is created by the server.
- This is hashed and sent to the player.
- Player provides their own random seed.
- These seeds are used to calculate the result of the roll.
- The original seed is revealed. This allows the player the opportunity to check that it matches the hash.
If a Bitcoin casino claims to be provably fair, it's important to check their methodology for yourself. They will have it listed somewhere, and you can use your client seed, and the server hash, along with the outcome of the event to check it works. Since it sounds so positive, and is an alien concept to many, casinos might say they're provably fair when they're just using the buzzword to get your custom. Learn how to check for yourself and you'll be sure to be getting a genuinely legitimate casino experience. It's akin to being able to check a deck of cards for fairness in a brick-and-mortar casino.
Bitcoin Casino FAQ
Are Bitcoin casinos secure?
There isn't a simple answer to that question. Many Bitcoin casinos are secure and offer provably fair games. However, in a largely unregulated field, there are of course bad actors from time to time. Check for a license, and research your chosen venue before sending Bitcoin to them. There are generally plenty of review sites around too which can help you to decide where to play at.
One nice thing about Bitcoin casinos is there's no need to leave huge bankrolls over on centralised servers. Even high stakes poker professionals playing off a roll of four or five figures needn't transfer the whole amount over. They can deposit what they need in smaller increments, and make frequent withdrawals. These don't take nearly as long as traditional payment processors to hit your wallet meaning that any big win can be quickly withdrawn to avoid overexposure of funds should anything unthinkable occur.
Do I need to provide personal information?
Bitcoin casinos often require much less in the way of personal information. You can usually signup using just an email address. If you use such a service, and peer-to-peer trades to acquire your Bitcoin, the process is very close to anonymous. This is ideal for Australian gamers wishing to gamble online and not arouse the suspicion of authorities.
Is there a minimum deposit amount at a Bitcoin casino?
As with more traditional online casinos, this will depend on the terms of the casino themselves. There isn't any specific reason for them to need a minimum deposit amount however. Traditional online casinos have Visa fees to pay and thus want you to deposit enough that it's worth their while paying the processing costs. With Bitcoin, the burden of fees is on the sender (customer), so many casinos will not require any minimum amount be transferred.
Can I claim deposit bonuses?
Just like with traditional online casinos, Bitcoin casinos do indeed offer deposit bonuses. Naturally, these will vary from venue to venue. Of course, always read all the terms and conditions, and be familiar with them before signing up and transferring funds. This will protect against any nasty surprises when it comes time to withdraw.
Are there Bitcoin-based gambling sites that work for mobile?
Yes. Just like traditional online casinos, there are those than have been optimised for use on mobile devices. Some will require specific applications, others won't. It depends which venue you choose. Check review websites to find out which work best on your chosen device.