Online gambling was one of the first uses cases for bitcoin that was widely adopted. Countries like the United States had (and still have) very draconian laws when it comes to online gambling and poker in particular. On April 15th 2011, a day now widely known as “Black Friday” in the poker community, the United States government took control of the URL’s of major poker rooms like PokerStars, Absolute Poker, Full Tilt and Ultimate Bet. They also seized 74 bank accounts in 14 different countries, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of players losing millions of dollars.
After “Black Friday” the United States government tightened regulations that prevented U.S. banks, credit card companies and financial institutions from interacting with offshore gambling operators. For online poker players in the USA, it seemed that all was lost. Then a miracle happened. A number of online poker rooms, sportsbooks and casinos started accepting U.S. players again providing they were willing to use a new type of magic internet money called bitcoin. Bitcoin was a decentralized cryptocurrency that could not be blocked by the United States government so gamblers were once again able to deposit and withdraw funds at a wide variety of bitcoin poker rooms and sports betting sites.
The growth in popularity of this new decentralized internet money couldn’t have come at a better time for online poker players in Australia. Due to the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill, online poker is now illegal in Australia and every major poker room, including PokerStars, 888poker and PartyPoker, have restricted Australian citizens from playing at their tables. This left the estimated 125,000 Australian poker players very unhappy and frustrated. Many offshore poker rooms like Bovada Poker, Americas Cardroom and BetOnline had begun accepting Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum from their players so it appeared at first that Satoshi Nakamoto had saved the day.
Unfortunately, many of these bitcoin friendly poker rooms have also since closed their doors to Australian players. The Winning Poker Network, that is home to BlackChip Poker, True Poker and Americas Cardroom, decided to abandon the Australian poker market. The Chico Poker Network have also decided to leave Australia, despite the fact that BetOnline and other poker rooms on the network accept a range of cryptocurrencies.
The good news for bitcoin poker players in Australia is that there are still a couple of very good options available to them. Ignition Casino is the highest traffic online poker room available in Australia because it shares a player pool with poker giants Bovada and Bodog. Nitrogen Sports is probably the biggest and best known bitcoin-exclusive sportsbook and they too continue to welcome real money poker players from Australia to their poker room. Seals With Clubs, or SwC as it’s now known, also have an open door policy when it comes to players from Australia, the United States or any other country.
It remains to be seen how long these Australia friendly poker sites will continue to accept real money players from Australia. What we can say for certain is that without cryptocurrencies, even these options would not be available to players here.
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