How to Gamble With Bitcoin

Your guide to bitcoin gambling.

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 When not done responsibly, gambling can be a major problem and even an addiction. But in places where it is legally permitted, many people enjoy a little flutter every so often. Bitcoin offers a perfect opportunity for instantly accessible online gambling.

Before exploring online gambling with bitcoin, the most important step is to ensure that you are legally permitted to play. Gambling is typically governed on a state-by-state basis in the US, but online gambling has been more strictly governed at a federal level.

The 1961 Federal Wire Act outlawed interstate sports gambling but has often been interpreted as covering all kinds of betting. In 2006, the US government also passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which prohibited banks from processing transactions for online gambling companies.

Some states are writing their own laws on this topic, though. Delaware has allowed online gambling, and New Jersey and Nevada have done the same.

It’s difficult to know whether gambling with bitcoin is legal or not in jurisdictions that heavily regulate gambling in fiat currency. This is because there hasn’t yet been a solid test case to clarify the legal position.

In the meantime, some sites that accept US players are registered in countries like Costa Rica, that don’t require gambling operations to register and identify players. Even so, many such companies refuse to take bets from US-based IP addresses.

Categorising Games

Sports books feature heavily in the bitcoin gambling universe. CloudBet, provides a variety of casino games including blackjack, but also offers a sports book that enables players to bet on live events around the world. Nitrogen Sports offers a similar sports book service.

Nitrogen is one of several sites offering online poker games.

Another, Infiniti Poker offers players the chance to bet in fiat currency and bitcoin. That site’s differentiator is that it uses live cameras to show you who you’re playing against.

Bitcoin may have opened opportunities for traditional games online, while also creating some new ones. SatoshiDice, one of the most successful and earliest bitcoin betting games, enables people to play dice online, sending bitcoin bets to specific bitcoin addresses based on the probability of winning. The site then returns a bitcoin transaction, which is either bet multiplied by the price multiplier in the event of a win, or a tiny fraction of your original bet should you lose.

Provably Fair Bets

When looking for gambling sites that don’t base their outcomes on real events, it’s important to find options that are provably fair. They use mathematical systems to prove to players that the results are unbiased. Depending on the nature of the game, these algorithms take different forms.

One example, used by PrimeDice, is to use three ‘seeds’ – numbers that when combined together produce a unique hash. There is a seed defined by the player, another used by the PrimeDice computer, and a third, constant seed which is kept a secret for a day.

The three seeds are combined when the electronic dice are rolled, to produce the final win-lose result. A day later, the secret seed is published, and the player can check to ensure that the numbers, when combined, produce the same result.

SatoshiDice’s web site does something similar, using a JavaScript-based program running in the browser to verify that the numbers used produced the same result found in the bet.

A Word of Advice

Aside from ensuring that they are legally permitted to gamble from their local jurisdiction, would-be bitcoin gamblers should remember two other things.

Firstly, do your background research to ensure that the site you are using is a secure, as there have been several hacking incidents leading to losses from the sites. Players should leave as little money as possible in any online accounts operated by bitcoin gambling sites, and remember that they gamble at their own risk.

Secondly, gamble responsibly. Bitcoin gambling is instantaneous, and easy, once you have obtained your bitcoin funds. Setting personal limits and not getting carried away is an important part of a successful and enjoyable gambling hobby.