It is has been estimated that the total amount of the decentralized digital currency known as Bitcoin (BTC) in circulation today would add up to around $150 million. Amongst the online businesses benefiting from using this currency are the Bitcoin-based casinos, SatoshiDice and bitZino, both of whom recently released healthy earnings in their latest financial reports.
In its fourth-quarter 2012 results, for instance, SatoshiDice, which operates an online dice game, has returned £375,626 of profits for 2012, equal to around £1,527 per day. By contrast, online casino bitZino has released 6 months worth of financial data indicating that 3.2 million bets were made during H2 2012.
Commenting on the growing popularity of Bitcoin, bitZino’s founder Larry Taad, said that most of his customers do not maintain balances on his site, and explained: “Users don’t have to trust us with their funds any longer than necessary. If you compare this to traditional online casinos, which can take weeks to send you your winnings, the benefit is obvious. And of course, it goes both ways: it is also extremely easy and quick for users to add funds back to our site. Frictionless, non-reversible, zero-fraud payments — you can’t ask for a more perfect payment system!”
However, the legal status of Bitcoin remains unclear, hampering any attempts by the payment system to become mainstream. Only last year, Sen. Charles Schumer described the currency as “an online form of money laundering,” in the wake of the Silk Road illegal drug selling scandal. In addition, other online currencies, such as Digicash, Flooz, and Beenz failed to catch on in the past because they provided only marginal benefits to the consumer. Whether Bitcoin will be able to survive where others have failed remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, one person who has benefited greatly from Bitcoin is an investor who in February 2010 paid $20,000 for a holding in Bitcoin, only to sell it in June 2011 for around $3 million.