The CryptoGamblingNews.com team runs down a topsy-turvy year for the crypto gambling industry, including all-times highs and some familiar challenges.
Bitcoin is close to an all-time high… but that’s not necessarily a good thing for casinos
So much for Bitcoin’s move away from volatility. 2020 was a typically topsy-turvy year for the most valuable cryptocurrency, and it looks like it will end close to an all-time high.
One could purchase a single Bitcoin for around $7,000 at the start of 2020. But when the world awoke to the sheer scale of disruption COVID-19 would cause, BTC followed global stock markets in crashing. On March 16, the cryptocurrency was trading as low as $3,500 on some exchanges.
But since March, Bitcoin has been on a remarkable upward trajectory, and has spent much of December trading above $19,000.
Good news for those who purchased earlier in the year, but perhaps not for Bitcoin casinos; several crypto casinos execs tell us that as the price rises, players gamble less Bitcoin in dollar terms, preferring instead to ‘HODL’ their coins in hope for further gains.
Blockchain gaming can scale
While a handful of crypto casino brands which launched via 2017’s ICO gold rush have been making steady progress, it wasn’t until this year we saw blockchain casinos operate at genuine scale.
But decentralised casinos built upon the Tron blockchain flourished in 2020. Gaming with the blockchain’s proprietary TRX token – which has a market capitalisation of around $2bn – now reaches a large and high-value audience.
Several Tron-based casinos, including the most famous, WINK.org, regularly reported in excess of 2,000 daily active users throughout the year.
Gambling-focused cryptocurrencies grow in 2020, but slower than others
At time of writing, our index of 23 gambling cryptocurrencies shows that the sector grew around seven percent in 2020; a solid return, but disappointing when placed next to the price growth of Bitcoin.
Nonetheless, there are reasons to be optimistic. The combined market cap of these cryptocurrencies now exceed $180m.
Three of the coins – FunFair’s $FUN token, Bitbook’s $BXK token and WINK’s $WIN token – have a market cap in excess of $20m.
And more than $3m worth of these coins are traded every day on global exchanges.
Biggest brands entering the mainstream
The biggest Bitcoin gaming brands began to go mainstream in 2020.
Perhaps the most notable is Sportsbet.io, operated by the Coingaming Group. During 2020, its logo has appeared on the front of Watford and Southampton shirts in the Premier League. The brand also inked an official partner deal with Arsenal.
Other crypto casino brands are beginning to follow the lead. Stake.com was an official sponsor of the TT Cup table tennis tournament earlier in the year – at a time when the sport was attracting huge attention while others were locked down.
Atari joins the crypto casino party
Perhaps one of the most eye-catching stories for the crypto gambling sector in 2020 was the entrance of video game pioneers Atari into the space.
The company launched its proprietary ATRI cryptocurrency, which could be used to play at dedicated casinos. Despite some early volatility, the token currently has a market capitalisation of around $8m.
FunFair brings crypto games beyond the blockchain
Content at crypto casinos can look quite different to that you would normally see at a traditional online casino. Multiplayer ‘crash’ and ‘dice’ games are particularly popular, while slots can sometimes take a backseat.
That’s why it was particularly interesting to see blockchain casino platform provider FunFair Technologies look to bring this crypto content to a broader casino audience with FunFair Games.
With a distribution deal already in place with EveryMatrix’s RGS Matrix, the studio will look to target Gen Y and Z players with content which has already performed strongly within the blockchain space.
Year of the Stablecoin
Stablecoins, cryptocurrencies which are pegged in value to something else, enjoyed a strong 2020 as traders and savers looked to escape volatile markets.
Crypto casinos were soon to spot an opportunity. One such operator, Cloudbet, now offers gaming with cryptocurrencies including US dollar stablecoins Tether, USD Coin and Pax Gold, which is tied to the price of gold.
But perhaps most intriguing was its addition of DAI, an Ethereum-based stablecoin tied to the US dollar which has gained significant traction in Latin America, where Argentina and Venezuela continue to battle with rampant inflation.
Betting on 2021?
Cryptocurrency gambling has become an important segment of our wider industry over the past couple of years. Blockchain casinos continue to innovate; an ever-increasing cohort of operators now accept Bitcoin as a payment method. Brands such as Sportsbet.io are now globally recognised.
A similar process is happening across industries, most notably banking. It was no coincidence that Bitcoin’s price surge coincided with the news that cryptocurrency holdings would become an important part of PayPal’s offering in 2021.
For operators looking for areas where they can supercharge their 2021 growth, crypto may well be the most important opportunity of the next 12 months.