Bitcoin has yet to be fully embraced by the online poker industry, with only a handful of sites offering the digital currency as a payment processing option.
However, that may change in the future, especially considering a somewhat renewed popularity in Bitcoin that is centered around a recent spike in value. Trading of the virtual currency skyrocketed to more than $900 earlier this week, before a downward slide in less than an hour’s time sent the value back down to around $650.
Just last week, the price of a Bitcoin reached an all-time high of $400. The fact that the digital currency more than doubled in value momentarily after achieving a previous high only days before had many investors taking notice. Also noticing were online poker players, who tend to look for value beyond overlays and favorable pot odds.
The temporary huge gain in valuation was attributed to a U.S. Congressional hearing on digital currency, the first of its kind. Legislators debated the potential risks of Internet currencies at the Monday sit-down and considered possible regulation, CoinDesk reported.
Chief among the concerns of U.S. lawmakers is the need to combat illicit activities such as money laundering that the nearly-anonymous trading of Bitcoin attracts among society’s criminal element. Regulation may go a long way in controlling some of the illegal behavior associated with the online currency, but may also go against the intent of its proponents.
The Congressional hearing that lasted about three hours did a bit more than create a temporary jump in value for Bitcoin. It also allowed the virtual currency to gain a certain degree of legitimacy. That apparently may bode well for poker sites whose cashier cages accept Bitcoin.
Take SealswithClubs, for instance.The U.S-friendly poker site uses Bitcoin exclusively and has seen a surge in traffic of late, according to PokerScout. Ranked 37th on the global online poker industry charts, SealswithClubs now clocks in with a seven-day average of 130 cash players. That’s a far cry from the numbers posted just a couple months ago and may signal a developing trend of greater acceptance toward Bitcoin.
CoinDesk reports that there are roughly 12 million Bitcoin in existence and more than 50,000 are transacted per hour. The virtual currency is trading at slightly higher than $650 as of this writing. Considering that the value was around $70 about five months ago, investors (and poker players) who had the foresight to buy low are now reaping a windfall similar to that of winning a major poker tournament.