More than 140 online betting sites, including at least 10 platforms offering web poker, use the digital currency bitcoin—and it has been estimated that more than half of global bitcoin transactions are wagers on gambling sites, creating a market worth billions.
So, when the price of bitcoin drops, it would make sense to think that poker sites using it are hurt. However, that not’s really the case, according to one bitcoin expert.
Though it quickly became outdated thanks to bitcoin rebounding (on Friday morning it was back up to trading at roughly $210), a quote from a The Wall Street Journal article last week highlighted the volatility of bitcoin’s price in recent months.
“The virtual currency, which trades mostly in unregulated overseas markets, has fallen 44 percent since the start of the year and 85 percent from the record high of $1,165 it hit in early December 2013. In total, almost $11.3 billion in value has been lost since that peak.”
The rise and fall (and subsequent fluctuations) in price of the digital currency doesn’t have bitcoin experts worried, however. Poker pro Bryan Micon, who is the affiliate manager for the leading bitcoin-only online poker site Seals with Clubs (one of many online gaming sites to utilize the technology), is one of those who isn’t concerned, especially by pessimistic headlines.
“I would characterize the recent downward (then slightly upward) bitcoin price movement the same way I always characterize them: We are once again observing a small, unregulated market which is completely driven by human supply-demand,” Micon said.
“If more bitcoin holders want to sell than fiat holders want to buy, the price will go down. When the opposite is true the price will go up,” he added.
A recent article from Wired, titled “The Price of Bitcoin Doesn’t Matter Right Now”, made an interesting comparison between bitcoin and the early stages of the Internet itself. It took years before the internet matured into what it is today. Bitcoin might take awhile to gain that permanence and widespread economic confidence, so a falling price definitely doesn’t mean doom and gloom.
Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the world, saw its first bitcoin ATM just last year.
Micon added that fiat currency is obviously still what people value bitcoin against, but that those who have faith in the digital currency aren’t dismayed by downward price movements.
Sign Up For FantasyDraft And Get A Double Down Bonus Up To $600
“I feel the world will continue to embrace bitcoin over time, and as always, I’m going to continue to hold,” said Micon, who has been involved with bitcoin since 2011.
Micon thinks it’s pretty crazy these days to witness “bitcoin derivatives possibly moving the market with such force” given how young the digital currency really is. It was first conceived of in 2008 by developer Satoshi Nakamoto, making it only about six years old.
As for how the price of bitcoin affects online gaming sites that use it, Micon said:
“It’s been my observation that bitcoin poker players tend to play less when the price goes down. I think from a bitcoin enthusiast standpoint there is less to be excited about as the price slides. The flip side of that coin is that when the price spikes upward humans seem to be more excited about bitcoin in general, and play seems to pick up.”
According to tracking from PokerScout, traffic on Seals With Clubs has remained pretty consistent over the past six months. Same with Switch Poker, another bitcoin poker site.