Why U.S. Sports Betting Matters For Bitcoin


In the United States, sports betting has been mostly outlawed for a long time now. There have always been pockets of the country in which the activity has permitted (Las Vegas’s sportsbooks certainly come to mind), and on top of this, lots of Americans make a habit of betting illegally. This can be done either through unregulated channels, offshore bookies, or even through regulated overseas options, if one masks one’s digital location. Despite all of this activity though, sports betting has never been the industry it could be in America.

Now, however, it appears to be on the path to becoming that industry. Following some major legislative developments at the federal level in 2018, online betting is beginning to spread to states that had previously prohibited it. At this stage, four states (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Nevada) have legal online betting, and roughly half of the remaining state governments are debating the issue. Major sports media companies are already producing content aimed at bettors, and fantasy sports platforms like DraftKings are adding sportsbook services. It will take time to reach its full potential, but the U.S. betting industry is on its way.

So - what does this actually have to do with bitcoin? Why does it matter on the cryptocurrency front that a sports betting industry is on the rise in the United States?

Basically, it matters because this is a business that is essentially a perfect fit for bitcoin as it was imagined in the first place. People who want to use cryptocurrency as functioning money are attracted to it because of the speed, convenience, anonymity, and security it’s meant to provide. And people who want to gamble on the internet are preoccupied with making sure their bets are handled efficiently and carefully, that their personal information is protected, and that they’re not vulnerable to any kind of fraudulent activity or financial mishap. As one article on this very subject noted - specifically with regard to transaction speed - bitcoin shines as an option. It almost seems as if it was made for this very application.

In addition to being an appealing option because of what it is, bitcoin may also be stabilizing just in time to catch a wave of rising sportsbooks and related sites. It almost seems strange to say after bitcoin was, for so long, viewed as a wildly turbulent asset - but the cryptocurrency is actually becoming less volatile than some everyday stocks. From roughly the fourth quarter of 2018 through the first of 2019, it’s shown a stability it hadn’t demonstrated in years prior, and appears to have settled into a general range of value. This isn’t to say things can’t change quickly; there are almost certainly more peaks and valleys in bitcoin’s future. However, it does seem significant that right as an industry is being built for which bitcoin is a very natural partner, the cryptocurrency is beginning to look more sensible to use.

This may or may not all add up to a significant development in the coming years. It’s at least possible, though, that U.S. sports betting is the business bitcoin has been waiting for.

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