Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Dogecoin are growing in popularity, but not everyone is aware of how they could connect to online gambling.
According to James Syphax, Community Prevention Manager at Prevention Action Alliance, understanding this connection is critical to problem gambling prevention. Syphax presented on Cryptocurrency and Online Gambling at the 18th Annual Ohio Problem Gambling Conference this past March.
A cryptocurrency is a virtual form of proxy payment similar to arcade tokens or casino chips and can be used online for goods and services. Over 8,000 different types of cryptocurrencies are currently on the market, and about 50% of Bitcoin transactions are gambling-related.
According to Syphax, buying and selling cryptocurrency is a form of gambling and is considered a risky activity for someone who struggles with a problem with gambling.
That’s because cryptocurrencies are loosely regulated and decentralized transactions — meaning every purchase is made through a peer-to-peer network instead of a centralized bank and credit card company — so people feel a false sense of anonymity.
Due to a lack of oversight, offshore gambling purchases are more convenient and not easily detectable. This lets people gambling without loved ones or accountability partners knowing about their transactions. Additionally, in some casinos outside Ohio, players can specify to cash out in Bitcoins or access online casinos, making it easier to gamble in states where it is illegal.
Similar to other forms of gambling, betting with cryptocurrencies has increased since the beginning of COVID-19.
Due to the explosion of the social media platform TikTok, “gambling for followers” has become popular. People are at home with an excess of time and want to showcase their winnings through popular games like “RocketRun.” Since cryptocurrencies are loosely regulated, and the typical target audience for TikTok is youth, many unknowingly participate in underage gambling.
Syphax stated there’s a clear thread that runs through gambling and cryptocurrencies and users need to be aware of it. Buying, using, and gambling with cryptocurrencies comes with risks, and it’s important to be responsible if you choose to participate.
Responsible gambling starts with knowing the facts and gauging your risk. You can do that in just 2 minutes with Before You Bet’s responsible gambling quiz at BeforeYouBet.org/the-quiz/
Before You Bet also provides access to treatment if you think you might have a problem with gambling, with or without using cryptocurrencies. You can access help by calling the free, 24/7 helpline at 1-800-589-9966 or by texting 4HOPE to 741741.