Bitcoin (BTC) soared past $400 earlier Tuesday and is trading now at $416.
Online sports bettors at the SBR Sportsbook forum recently expressed reluctance at using the digital currency for making transactions with sportsbooks due to the swings in value: "It makes me a little nervous that Nitrogen doesn't convert the bitcoin to USD. It's like we're gambling on games, and bitcoin, simultaneously," wrote forum member 'TheGiant'.
The fear of wagering on the swings of currency in addition to the outcome of sporting events has been too much for some risk averse bettors to handle, but as long as bitcoin's value steadily goes up, there are likely to be many more traditional sports bettors converted into bitcoin gamblers in 2016.
The off-shore sportsbook industry has struggled to provide a reliable and easy way to deposit consistently ever since financial institutions started actively flagging and declining transactions believed to be associated with online betting; banks amped up their efforts once the ink dried on the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act ("UIGEA") of 2006.
Pre-UIGEA days, there were eWallets like Neteller, Moneybookers (now Skrill), FirePay, eWalletXpress, and countless other ways to very quickly and cheaply move funds between online sportsbooks for Americans. Once the options dried up, some players were turned off by the fees and time it takes to move funds around from one book to another.
Bitcoin has the ability to be a game changer not only for Americans tired of jumping through hoops, but also Canadians who can no longer enjoy the likes of Skrill and Neteller for gambling transactions, and anyone in the world who enjoys the feeling of anonymity. The digital currency offers a way for sports bettors to free themselves from the shackles enforced by financial institutions on behalf of the government.
There is a learning curve, to be sure. But just as average PC users have become savvier at using VPNs or anonymizers to browse privately, the average online sports will become acquainted with bitcoin wallets. Free transactions on the way in and out, plus instant withdrawals at some bitcoin accepting sportsbooks make this change a heck of a lot more tolerable for old-school gamblers used to doing things the hard way.
The below chart shows the last two week's of bitcoin fluctuations. The data is provided by Coindesk.com.
Sportsbook Review launched a bitcoin sportsbooks guide prior to the start of last year's football season. At the time, only a small handful of online sportsbooks offered bitcoin as a way to deposit or withdraw; now, all major off-shore sportsbooks offer bitcoin, including some of the industry's top sportsbooks.