The Super Bowl is just around the corner, and with it comes one of the most active days for US gamblers. Last year’s Super Bowl that featured the Baltimore Ravens beating the San Francisco 49ers and the first championship game coached by opposing brothers reportedly generated nearly $99 million in Las Vegas wagers. Taking into account other smaller legalized gambling venues scattered throughout the US, the total legal wagers on the Super Bowl were even higher. With the Seattle Seahawks taking on the Denver Broncos this coming Sunday evening, expectations are that wagers on this year’s Super Bowl will surpass that of 2013 and achieve an all-time high.
Despite the proliferation of sports related gambling and its US popularity, online bettors have been mostly shut out in the country since the initiation of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006 was passed. The act set in motion the prohibition of internet based wagers and led to major online casinos to halt their accepting of US customers.
Despite the prohibitions, bitcoin based online casinos have found healthy demand of interest from US based bettors. Among the key features is the anonymity of bitcoin gambling where gamers can open accounts without entering their name and locale, and only identifying themselves using a bitcoin wallet address and pseudonym.
Taking it a step further, Coinbet, a new online casino has begun to actively solicit US bettors through a campaign that markets bitcoin funded gaming to be legal in the country. A Costa Rican domiciled firm, Coinbet, is aiming to attract US gamblers through the launch of a Super Bowl themed $1,000,000 giveaway. According to the firm in a public release, Coinbet announced the campaign via billboards in New York’s Time Square.
On the Coinbet’s website, they claim that “Bitcoins represent the very first secure and legitimate workaround for the online U.S. gambling community. Because the ever popular cryptocurrency is not “legal tender” and not recognized as a legitimate form of currency by the U.S., that also means that in legal terms- online gambling with Bitcoin is not an illegal event under the Wire Act or Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) which is why it is the perfect payment method for online action in the U.S.”
In addition to requiring US customers to pay in bitcoins, the value of the digital currency is converted into CoinCash, which is the official currency for placing bets on CoinBet. CoinCash values are based on USD, EUR, of GBP.
Is this really legal in the US?
Ever since the US government began to close down access to online gambling, internet casino operators have been attempting workarounds for the rules. Among the popular methods has been via the deposit of secondary currencies. For example, using minutes on calling cards which have a dollar based value and which users can ultimately refund back into fiat. Speaking to our experts in the field who requested to remain anonymous, they explained that even though these funding options aren’t legal tender, online casinos operating with calling cards or similar methods have also been shut down due to these payment solutions being linked to fiat values.
In terms of Coinbet, they have taken a two-step approach by requiring both a non-legal tender funding option as well as having the value of those bitcoins converted into CoinCash. Nonetheless, these experts believed the online casino may also run into the hostility of US authorities if it gains to much attention as a site that is actively soliciting US customers due to accounts being tied to the value of legal tender currencies. Overall it will be interesting to see how this firm handles the US government, and if they can fly by without repercussions we would expect to see many more rivals pop up by next year’s Super Bowl.
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)