While cryptocurrencies are just now finding their way into the mainstream in North America, they’ve been quite a hit with a specific community for quite some time: sports bettors. However, it’s only currently available at offshore books, which are illegal in the US.
For the last decade or so, bettors playing at offshore sites in the gray market have become accustomed to using this new-wave form of money. That’s because playing offshore – while illegal in some places like the United States and gray in places like Canada or other countries – has always presented a tricky task: what’s the easiest way to get your money in and out?
Onshore companies that are legal and regulated don’t have these problems because customers can simply use a credit card or PayPal to deposit and withdraw, and most players will be far more familiar with these sports betting banking options than crypto. At the same time, there’s no question that there is an appetite for cryptocurrency in the United States and it’s simply growing by the day.
That begs the question: will sportsbooks in the state of Pennsylvania get on board and start offering deposits and withdrawals with cryptocurrency? Let’s take a closer look.
What Are Cryptocurrencies?
There is a vast array of cryptocurrencies with some expecting them to eventually have a value of zero while some view this as the future. We’re not going to delve into the two sides of that argument but what we will first talk about is what these are.
Essentially, cryptocurrency is digital money. It allows for person-to-person to the person-to-business transfer of money in a really fast, efficient way. Transactions can be easily tracked and there is no middle man involved.
We’re moving towards a world where everything is becoming more and more digital; is it really that big of a leap to see a future where everyone uses a digital currency?
When it comes to crypto, what many people understand is that they can be volatile. This year alone, Bitcoin has been as high as $69,000 and as low as $29,000 per Bitcoin. If the U.S. Dollar were this volatile, nobody would be able to rely on it as a reserve currency.
The good news is this doesn’t impact online gamblers in PA or sports bettors. All you’d have to do is exchange USD into crypto, send the crypto to the sportsbook, and then exchange it back. While crypto can be volatile, since it all works so fast, you can essentially execute this without the price impacting your deposit.
Right now, it’s a bit tricky to buy, sell, send and receive cryptocurrencies. However, there was a time when simply logging onto the internet and using it was tricky. If crypto does become mainstream as it is trending towards, using it in all fashions will be far more user-friendly.
Why Would PA Sportsbooks Accept Cryptocurrency?
Customers in Pennsylvania can deposit with credit cards, prepaid cards, PayNearMe, online banking, PayPal, various other e-wallets like Skrill…do they really need to add cryptocurrency to the fold?
While that may seem like overkill, the reality is that these companies will move to wherever there is demand. If many customers have cryptocurrency available, the more popular sports betting apps in PA would be smart to offer banking methods that cater to it, so that they can take advantage.
The other main attraction for sportsbooks is the fact that they stand to save a lot of money with crypto.
Think about it: companies like Visa or PayPal might only take 2% or 3% per transaction, but for a gaming company, that number could result in millions in fees. Sportsbooks raking in hundreds of millions in handle – if not billions – in each state (collectively).
Imagine that if a company handles $50 million in deposits and withdrawals in one month, a 1% fee could cost them $500,000. If they can cut down on that number by using Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, or some of the other popular cryptos specifically for low transaction costs and fast transfers like Stellar or Ripple, they might only have $5,000-$50,000 in fees.
As for the customer’s perspective, it’s simply about depositing and withdrawing faster. Transfers with crypto are instantaneous with minimal fees. Do you really want to be fumbling with online banking or opening up Skrill accounts and possibly even paying fees yourself if crypto can do this more efficiently at a cheaper cost?
That’s a glimpse of what the future might be. We still have a long way to go but that’s where crypto hopes to be in five years or sooner.
What’s Stopping Crypto Adoption?
One of the biggest challenges for cryptocurrencies right now is regulation. At this point, we’re not entirely sure if currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Polkadot, Cardano, and others will continue to be free of regulation or whether the government will want to jump in and start to dictate a few things.
Will they want to allow Bitcoin and ban stable coins? Will they force full transparency for anyone using crypto? Will everyone be able to track every transaction or will some customers get away with anonymity?
These are some of the questions that have yet to be answered.
The one thing sportsbooks will have to expect is to do KYC – better known as Know Your Customer – if they ever want to allow cryptocurrency payments or withdrawals. That simply means that when a customer opens an account and wants to use crypto, they’ll have to provide ID and verify they are who they are, and that they’re of age.
Cryptocurrency right now offers a lot of anonymity but gambling companies have to ensure that customers are of age, using the apps in specific locations, and not doing anything fishy.
At this point, crypto is still a little bit of the wild west. It’s changing by the day and the government will do their best to still allow it for innovation but regulate it where they can. Once it’s much safer to use and crypto gets a blessing from the government, you can expect sportsbooks to get onboard.
Did You Know: Some Sportsbooks Already (Indirectly) Accept Crypto?
This might surprise you but here’s a bit of breaking news: some sportsbooks in Pennsylvania already accept cryptocurrency. Did that catch you off-guard? It shouldn’t as no books directly accept it. What we’re referring to is that PayPal and Skrill – two of the most common e-wallets that books use – both work with crypto.
In case you missed it, PayPal now supports Bitcoin transfers. As for Skrill, they actually take far more than just Bitcoin. You can use more than 40 different cryptocurrencies to fund your account – including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and much more. That means that we’re almost there already.
The next step is likely regulation and to get the PA Gaming Commission on board. When that happens, customers will be able to go direct with their crypto and avoid the fees of e-wallets. Don’t expect it to happen overnight but it feels like it’s something that it’s on the cusp.
What’s The Verdict?
Sportsbooks in Pennsylvania currently don’t allow you to directly deposit or play in cryptocurrencies. However, for the time being, this does feel like the future. We see so many sportsbooks already involved in crypto – including DraftKings Sportsbook, which has an entire NFT marketplace.
They allow customers to buy collectible NFT’s (non-fungible tokens) from star athletes like Tom Brady and Tiger Woods. Those are all different forms of crypto. Others like FanDuel sports betting app and BetMGM PA are debating whether they should get into this themselves too.
With so much enthusiasm surrounding cryptocurrency right now, it does feel like we’re nearing a time when sportsbooks will allow it. We see companies like Microsoft and AT&T accept it for payment as well as major sports franchises like the Oakland Athletics and Dallas Mavericks.
The Miami Heat’s arena is now known as FTX Arena – cryptocurrency exchange – and the Los Angeles Lakers now play at Crypto.com Arena. This is no longer something out there on the fringes of reality; this is real, this is growing and there is a smart business case as to why sportsbooks and customers will use this in the future. It’s just a matter of time.