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Las Vegas casinos to begin accepting bitcoin

Published time: January 21, 2014 16:44
Edited time: January 23, 2014 13:30
Reuters/Bobby Yip

Reuters/Bobby Yip

Two casinos in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada will become the first establishments of their kind to accept bitcoin as currency.

Effective Wednesday, customers of both The D and the Golden Gate casinos on Sin City’s famed Freemont Street will be able to spend bitcoins to buy goods and services.

Neither facility will accept bets being made with the emerging digital 'cryptocurrency' in lieu of fiat money, but will allow visitors to conduct transactions using bitcoin at certain casino-run businesses on site. The front desks at both the Golden Gate and The D hotels will accept bitcoin, as will select gift shops and eateries inside the buildings, totaling five in all.

Vegas proprietor Derek Stevens, a co-owner of both casinos, said he considered bringing bitcoin into the gaming business after the issue was brought up by a number of customers recently.

"I'm proud that the D and Golden Gate will be the first casino properties to accept bitcoin," Stevens said in a statement. "We're located in the growing high-tech sector of downtown Las Vegas, and like all things downtown, we're quickly adaptive to new technology. The timing is right for us to launch this initiative, and I'm happy to be able to offer this to our customers."

Stevens added that the establishments will rely on the popular BitPay service to process transactions using tablets and other mobile devices installed at each cashier station. Six percent of all bitcoin transactions in the world were being processed through BitPay as of November, and the system is currently being used by internet businesses in more than 200 countries.

Bitcoin itself has been around for almost five years, but has recently surged in popularity. Both the online retailer Overstock.com and Sacramento, California’s professional basketball team, the Kings, said they would start accepting bitcoin earlier this month. The online-only cash alternative can also be used to pay for college tuition or, in at least one case, the salary for a town’s chief of police.

And it could be just a coincidence, but other casinos across the pond are considering following Stevens’ lead.

“We recently picked up some business in the US and the fact that we will accept bitcoins might put us in the frame for more business opportunities," Harold Solomons of the Dublin-based online agency Matrix Internet told reporters at Silicone Republic on Tuesday. “We're putting the time in now in order to develop it. One of our clients in Ireland owns a casino and we're talking about the potential of the casino accepting bitcoin payments, for example." Meanwhile, though, customers at Steven’s casinos will be limited to using bitcoins for booking hotel rooms and ordering dinner - not making bets.

Although bitcoin may be the currency of the future, the Golden Gate hotel is actually rooted in history; it was opened in 1906 and is the oldest operating hotel in Las Vegas.

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