Bitcoin has been a hot topic in online gaming for a few years but only recently has it made a land-grab for the real estate of the mainstream media.
In 2018, barely an edition of the financial pages passes without talk of bitcoin or blockchain and a highly volatile bitcoin value has helped gain traction in editorial meetings worldwide.
As the online gaming sector gathers in London for this week’s ICE Totally Gaming, CasinoBeats talked to Dominic Bourke, director of casino at Bitcasino.io, part of the Coingaming Group, about bitcoin – its recent ups and downs and its future in gaming.
Bitcoin’s value has been volatile over recent months – what do you make of that? How does this impact the running of an online casinos? Do players need reassurance?
DB: “I think we have to look at the volatility of recent months as separate to what’s generally been occurring in the industry over the past few years. We’ve seen bitcoin hit levels we’ve never seen before, and with this comes unpredictability. From within the industry, we’ve obviously enjoyed seeing the spike in bitcoin’s value, but this hasn’t changed our business strategy.
“We are here for the long-term, so we’ve established stringent procedures to ensure we can cope with volatility, while continuing to grow our product range on the back of our recent rebrand. For example, we have built in the ability to adjust our minimum and maximum bets to align with player’s gaming expectations based on the current value of bitcoin. Tools such as this mitigate against price volatility’s impact on the user experience.
“The average player at Bitcasino.io understands the risks and opportunities that bitcoin can present, but we must still ensure we do all we can to educate, and that’s an area we’ll continue to focus on, particularly as crypto continues into the mainstream.”
Have you seen any changes in traffic or player behaviour since bitcoin has, as you say, entered the mainstream?
“Without a doubt. As we’ve evolved as a business and secured our position as the leading bitcoin casino operator, our player type has also changed. We now have a far more diversified player base. Some of these have been early adopters of bitcoin, some fortunate with recent investments, and some just curious. Of course, what all these users have in common is that they want a world-class casino experience. Regardless of bitcoin’s price movements, that’s our priority.
“This diversity has changed the type of games our players play, the average stakes, the average game times and the channels they play on. As a company looking to compete with major tier-one fiat [currency] casinos, we must excel across the board, and we’re doing everything in our power to do so.”
Have there been certain regions that have adapted bitcoin gaming at a faster rate than others, and if so, why do you think this is?
“The cryptocurrency sector, led by bitcoin, has been a truly global phenomenon, and it’s no different when it comes to casino. The flexibility of bitcoin, and its ability to change hands across borders with relative ease, has meant those in less-established gaming territories can now access a viable, quality product.
“We’ve seen strong sign-up figures from various Latin American countries, across East Asia and throughout some of the traditional casino heartlands in Europe. We’ve serviced this demand with the roll out of multilingual sites, including Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Spanish, Korean and Thai versions, with many more in development.”
What are the major challenges you face in the coming months and years as a bitcoin-led casino, and how will you deal with these?
“Our focus is on the user experience. For instance, as bitcoin’s value increases, we will adopt a new staking denomination to simplify our proposition to players.
“Likewise, with so many cryptocurrencies currently available, we are opening our payment options up to include Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Ether and other digital currencies. This widens our audience and diversifies our cryptocurrency holdings, helping us manage growing risk.
“Another breakthrough for the Coingaming Group has also been the trialling of the Lightning Network. Without going into too much technical jargon, we can now remove a lot of the heavy lifting off the blockchain, by moving transaction chains off grid when between two parties, and then back on once they’ve been finalised. This has made for a more seamless user experience and will help secure our market-leading position.”