Because of our reduced fraud risk, we can take very large Bitcoin deposits from players that wish to play high-stakes immediately, and don’t wish to wait for a bank wire WinPoker.com, on the iPoker network, is adding Bitcoin support for deposits and withdrawals, pokerfuse can exclusively reveal.
It is the first time a poker room on any major online poker network has added first-class Bitcoin support to the cashier.
Deposits can be made by sending BTC directly through the cashier on the WinPoker website to the room’s Bitcoin wallet. As soon as the system receives the funds—typically within ten minutes—the money will be credited to the player’s account.
If players store their wallets on smartphones, depositing can be as simple as scanning a QR code.
Unlike other online poker Bitcoin implementations, the money held on the WinPoker cashier will be converted into the player’s traditional account currency as soon as its received—WinPoker allows accounts in US dollars, UK Sterling, Euro and the Indian Rupee—so the player is not required to speculate on the tumultuous Bitcoin currency exchange market.
To withdrawal, players simply request cashouts direct to their Bitcoin wallet. Withdrawal times are expected to be much the same as traditional withdrawal methods.
Bitcoins and Online Poker
WinPoker is not the first online poker room to support the decentralized crypto-currency.
The most notable is the Bitcoin-only, US-facing Seals with Clubs, self-stylized as the “Wild West of online poker.” It, along with online casino “SatoshiDice,” has risen to prominence lately with a spate of mainstream coverage and growing poker traffic.
There is also niche independent poker room Switch Poker, which was the first to add Bitcoin alongside other cashier options in November 2011.
However, the WinPoker launch is the first time any major poker room has added Bitcoin support. iPoker is the largest network of online poker rooms operating internationally, and sits behind only the independent rooms PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and PartyPoker in terms of cash game action.
It consists of over 30 different brands, including large European bookmakers like Paddy Power, Bet365, Betfair and William Hill, all sharing the same poker player pool. It also operates smaller networks in the regulated markets of France, Italy and Spain.
“There is no reliance on any ewallet company, bank or payment processor. Nobody but the owner can access—or freeze—their funds. Lesser known WinPoker (not to be confused with fellow iPoker skin Winning Poker, nor the Winning Poker Network), licensed in Curacao, is a recent addition to iPoker, thought it made headlines in September 2012 for adding mobile support on iPad and Android.
There are clear advantages of a decentralized, pseudo-anonymous currency for real-money online gambling sites that operate in the United States or other restricted markets, where payment processing is problematic at best.
But what advantages does it hold for a poker room closed to these gray markets?
“Bitcoin affords players a great deal of convenience, privacy, security, and accessibility,” James Lucas, a spokesperson for WinPoker, told pokerfuse in an exclusive interview.
“It is becoming increasingly ubiquitous, and Bitcoin can now be bought through a multitude of online and offline vendors—players can link their bank accounts for increased ease of use, or buy Bitcoin in cash anonymously at one of thousands of offline shopfronts around the world.”
Hundreds of businesses now accept the currency and there has been recent adoption in the mainstream. WordPress.com, the online blogging platform, added support in November 2012, and just this week domain registrar Namecheap also added BTC support.
“Another great feature of Bitcoin is that transactions are anonymous,” Lucas said. “Players control their own wallets, and choose what (if any) personal information to associate with them.”
“There is no reliance on any ewallet company, bank or payment processor. Nobody but the owner can access—or freeze—their funds. Users can send funds peer-to-peer to any of their friends at no cost, and they can keep their wallets offline for additional protection. Players are in complete control of their own funds.”
Of course, there are certainly upsides to the operator. Bitcoin transaction fees are very low: the fee is rarely more than a couple of US cents each way. Compare this to 3-8% for standard ewallet and credit card transactions, and the cost savings cannot be understated.
The reduction in fraud risk is another big financial advantage to the operator. Bitcoin is founded on the idea that there are no charge-backs—once a transaction is made, its complete, and there is no central authority to arbitrate disputes—so exposure is reduced substancially.
“Because of our reduced fraud risk, we can take very large Bitcoin deposits from players that wish to play high-stakes immediately, and don’t wish to wait for a bank wire,” Lucas explains.
“We believe the ability to transact at no cost, to and from anywhere in the world, completely anonymously, is an exciting prospect for many gamers around the world. Players without access to bank or credit card facilities, or in areas with poor financial infrastructure, can have access to our games easily and cheaply. Also, it allows players to make small deposits – they can deposit as little as a single dollar, as our transaction fees are low.”