Why the Crypto Poker Idea May Be Overblown

Guest  |  Sep 11, 2021

It’s been a few years now that there has been persistent conversation about cryptocurrency’s coming influence on internet poker. The idea of cryptos becoming the primary currencies involved in real-stakes poker has always seemed to make sense for a few clear reasons:

  • The perceived speed of crypto transactions would appeal to players
  • The security and anonymity of crypto transactions would make players more comfortable entrusting funds to poker sites.
  • Cryptocurrency could possibly allow poker sites to operate in legal grey areas where fiat currency gambling isn’t allowed.
  • Cryptocurrency is cool and new and could inject new enthusiasm and new audiences into the online poker world.
  • Partially on the basis of these ideas, we have in fact seen some use of cryptocurrency at both established and new poker platforms. Despite this apparent sign of progress however, those who expect a full crypto takeover of online poker (or online casinos more broadly) are likely to be disappointed. Because as much as the points listed above make a certain sense, there are also reasons to believe that the potential of cryptos in poker is overblown.

    The Speed is a Myth

    It’s often recited and repeated that crypto transactions are faster than traditional exchanges. This claim is seldom justified however, and a comparison of transaction speeds on Medium.com calls the whole idea into question. Clearly, some cryptos are faster than others, and some may be faster than some traditional payment methods. But the notion that casino gamers will enjoy more rapid cash transfers via cryptocurrency is essentially baseless.

    Sites with Crypto Still Offer Traditional Methods

    We mentioned that we have seen some adoption of cryptocurrency in the online poker world. However, it’s worth noting that where this is happening, the crypto options aren’t replacing their predecessors. A piece about playing real-money poker on Poker.org, outlines how bitcoin is becoming a semi-popular option at casino sites — but those sites “also offer traditional methods” such as credit and debt cards and bank transfers. This suggests that crypto inclusion is something of a novelty or a form of outreach to the crypto community rather than a revolution in payment methods.

    Altcoins Are Too Big

    This point isn’t necessarily that impactful. But some who have been waiting to see cryptos influence online casino sites have also expected that altcoins will take the lead, specifically because they’re easier to deal in manageable amounts. As you may have gleaned from our latest ‘Top 10 Altcoins’ investment piece though, these crypto option have gotten big and valuable! That’s not to say they’re not useful, but it’s difficult at this point to think of an altcoin that is both well known and specifically suited to gaming.

    Stablecoins Defeat the Purpose

    Some have suggested that stablecoins could also prove to be useful at casino and poker sites. This makes some logical sense, in that they’d do away with the volatility issue at the core of the argument that any cryptocurrency could be “too big” to be practical. Yet one wonders if gamers would truly be motivated to switch to crypto-like options that essentially mirror currency anyway. There would still be some potential benefits (security and anonymity again), but the use of stablecoins would likely seem like an unnecessary hassle to a lot of gamers who would rather not bother.

    None of this is to say that we won’t gradually see more cryptocurrency in poker and other casino games. But the idea of a full takeover has almost certainly been overblown.

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