After successfully proving itself as a viable safe haven and a reliable type of currency that can withstand even the worst economic downturn of the decade, more industries are becoming interested in cryptocurrencies. In fact, multiple investors — including Fortune 500 companies — poured a record $30 billion into everything from Bitcoin to NFTs in the past year alone. And that isn’t even taking blockchain into consideration – the tech that made them possible in the first place.
A great example of an industry that is benefiting from blockchain and crypto is poker. By integrating blockchain and cryptocurrency, online poker players are able to enjoy a lot of the benefits that are revolutionizing the game. Here are just some of the ways these up-and-coming technologies are changing poker:
It’s helping legalize online poker
So far, only five of them have licensed and regulated operating online poker sites. That is in spite of the fact that around 40 million people, or 6.8% of the country’s adult population, played online poker regularly even before the pandemic hit. This huge disparity in demand and supply led to the rise of unregulated sites in most other states, which have been the target of federal crackdowns in recent years. The government’s persistent efforts to shut down such sites made it even more difficult for poker enthusiasts to push for online poker’s legalization.
Recently, however, many are pointing to cryptocurrencies’ potential for continuing the fight. Unlike fiat and other currencies, cryptocurrencies are not tied to any location. Thanks to the blockchain — which we’ve previously defined as a highly secure platform that fulfills authentication requirements — crypto can also be purchased without the involvement of banks. This allows poker players to overcome the Interstate Wire Act of 1961, which prevents sites from legally accepting online wagers outside certain jurisdictions.
Poker players often struggle with finding trustworthy online poker sites. It’s easy to see why this is the case: many of these platforms do not transparently communicate the trustworthiness and fairness of their operations to players. More often than not, you will find online poker sites that leverage statistics for the house’s benefit and Return To Player (RTP) rates to prove their credibility. Poker enthusiasts who want to win at poker often have to join poker forums or befriend accomplished players on social media to find trustworthy sites to play on. While these avenues can be helpful, they also expose players to unnecessary risks by pushing them to communicate with strangers online.
With cryptocurrency and the blockchain, players would no longer need to rely on third-party vetting and obscure claims about a site. Instead, modification- and hack-proof blockchain records would give them something more tangible to go on. By integrating blockchain technology into the payment system, sites would also be able to instantaneously update ledgers and make them accessible to the public for the purposes of transparency.
Like most popular casino games, poker is surrounded by a lot of misconceptions and stigma. This is a major reason why those who are interested in the game shy away from it, and why players are hesitant about sharing information about themselves. Cryptocurrency and the blockchain can easily address these concerns. Due to its decentralized nature, cryptocurrency is able to offer players complete privacy. With crypto, online poker players can make payments anywhere in the world without having to reveal sensitive information to others.
Since cryptocurrencies operate freely and away from the regulatory influences of banks and government institutions, a player’s name does not have to be tied to their crypto wallet. The only identification a player needs to access their wallet is a set of private keys. In addition to increasing anonymity, this feature also makes it harder for malicious actors to try and steal a crypto wallet’s contents by effectively limiting access to private key owners.
Ultimately, it’s clear that cryptocurrency and the blockchain are two vital tools needed to help legalize poker. By improving fairness increasing anonymity, these two emerging technologies are slowly but surely changing the world of poker for the better.