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The Weird and Wonderful History of Bitcoin Casinos

roulette table in glowing lightsCurrently there are over 2,000 crypto and Bitcoin casinos out there and Crypto Lists has reviewed more than 250 of the best ones. But, not long ago there were none. Indeed, with every passing day, it seems like another one has sprung into existence.

Sure, it makes perfect sense for Bitcoin casinos to exist now, but people easily forget what the Bitcoin landscape was like back in the day. Let’s face it, those of us who were into Bitcoin in the early days are the ultimate geeks and wear that badge with honor.

Let’s unlock the archives and dip into to just how the hell we got to where we are right now. Because Bitcoin gambling is not going back in the box, cryptocurrency and crypto casinos are here to stay.

The acolytes of Satoshi

The birth of the Bitcoin blockchain in 2008 heralded the start of something new. Perhaps similar to the invention of the proto-internet, nobody – not even the creator himself (or themselves depending on who you believe) could have predicted the force in which they’d given life to.

Those early days of Bitcoin history were akin to the early days of the internet where regular folk would claim Bitcoin was a play thing for nerdy types. Now everyone books their holidays over the internet, orders hedge trimmers to shape their bushes into statues, work mostly online and an infinite amount of other things. Today, there are lots of competing blockchains such as Ethereum, Solana and Tron. But few – if any – can stand for the same kind of anonymity and decentralization.

iGaming: A Novel Sector

Even avid iGaming (a synonym for the online casino and sports betting sector) fans might be surprised to learn that the first online casino was launched as far back as 1995. Originally developed by software developer Playtech, the technology was obviously rudimentary for its time. However, things soon began to change with the introduction of broadband Internet.

The rise of online casinos became even more pronounced when the smartphone was introduced to the average consumer. Countless games could now be accessed even while out and about; an excellent way to enjoy a bit of downtime or even to generate a side hustle. You suddenly had the ability to watch a sports game out with friends, and quickly place a bet during halftime.

Of course, the software as well as the payment methods likewise evolved alongside the games themselves. As 3G speeds gave way to 4G wireless connectivity in the mid 2010s, other unique options such as live dealer games became available. These are some of the reasons why the entire industry is valued somewhere in the 11 figure mark.

Garden of Eden

During the same time that the online casino sector was enjoying a relatively bullish climate following the global recession, cryptocurrencies had begun to take hold within a handful of investment circles. Still, it would take the casino community a bit more time to warm up to what these decentralized transactions had to offer.

The crypto ecosystem began to enjoy mainstream popularity thanks to the meteoric rise of benchmark currencies such as Bitcoin and Ether (ETH)If these assets could be used as tradable items, why not also present them as an online casino payment option? While there is no real consensus in regard to exactly when the crypto casino community began to pick up steam, the simple fact is that countless dozens can now be accessed by the general public.

For those who are desperate to know and really can’t be bothered to read any further, the first Bitcoin casino was created by Erik Voorhees in 2012 with Satoshi Dice. Voorhees has continued to be a player in the world of cryptocurrency with projects like Shape Shift.

A Brief History of Time (…measured in BTC)

The history of the Bitcoin casino space could be split into four sections.

  1. 2009-2011: The Birth of Bitcoin and Early Adoption – Bitcoin, created by an unknown person or group of people using the name Satoshi Nakamoto, was introduced in 2009. In its early years, it didn’t see much usage in online casinos, mostly due to its lack of widespread adoption and volatile nature.
  2. 2012-2014: Initial Online Casinos Accepting Bitcoin – The first online casinos began to accept Bitcoin around 2012. As we know, Bitcoin offered a level of privacy, security and transactional transparency that other payment methods didn’t, which attracted both players and and initial startup casinos. One of the first known Bitcoin casinos was SatoshiDice, founded in 2012.
  3. 2015-2017: The Rise of Bitcoin Casinos – The mid-2010s saw a big rise in Bitcoin casinos as Bitcoin became more accepted and understood. Online gambling sites started to value Bitcoin for its decentralization, low transaction fees, and fast processing times. Bitcoin’s anonymity also made it increasingly attractive for players and casinos alike.
  4. 2018-Present: Regulation and Continued Growth – As Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have become more popular, they have attracted the attention of regulators worldwide. This has led to a shift in the landscape of Bitcoin casinos. Despite this, the number of casinos accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has continued to grow, reflecting the ongoing adoption of digital currencies.

Satoshi Dice: Setting the Scene

The OG of the crypto casino scene

Voorhees launched SatoshiDice in 2012, where people could stake their bitcoin on the roll of the dice, the great thing about it was because of Bitcoin it could be completely transparent.

It was a groundbreaking event in the world of anonymous crypto casinos, so much so that half of Bitcoin transactions were the result of Voorhees innovative and world changing Bitcoin casino.

Quite simply according to Voorhees:

“SatoshiDice showed you what the odds were. It was transparent with the odds, and you could prove that the rules were fair.”

Government bodies that oversee the traditional world of gambling were kinda irrelevant in this new world of complete transparency.

Based on the simple action of a dice roll, it was simple and easily understood. New BTC holders could easily engage and take part and have a little fun with their crypto.

Suddenly, Voorhees was running the worlds biggest Bitcoin casino. With regret Voorhees decided to sell the business to concentrate on other crypto currency projects, his business sold for 126,315 BTC in 2013, which as of August 2023 is worth just under $3 billion.

However, the US authorities at the SEC did not think he should get away freely and went after him for making a public offering of unregistered securities, even though his investors had made massive returns. The fine of $50,000 was eventually paid after dealing with them for nine months.

Satoshi Dice in 2018

Today, Satoshi Dice comes across like a quaint relic of a bygone era. There’s only one game available, compared to the plethora of tournaments, slots, and sports betting that you can find on the crypto casino sites of today. Since 2018 it’s only accepted Bitcoin Cash too, abandoning the original BTC principles it helped establish.

If you’d like to try a fully fledged Bitcoin casino with lots of different options, give LTC Casino a spin!

The Age of Pioneers

Bitlotto in April 2011

Once the first Bitcoin casino was launched a number quickly followed, here are a list of those first movers in the space. Explorers into a brave new world.

  1. SatoshiDice: SatoshiDice was launched in April 2012 and is considered to be the first operational Bitcoin casino, founded by Erik Voorhees.
  2. Bitzino: Bitzino was launched in 2012 and offered various casino games, including blackjack, slots, and roulette, all based on Bitcoin.
  3. SealsWithClubs: Although primarily known as a Bitcoin poker site, SealsWithClubs also had casino-style games such as video poker and blackjack. It gained popularity in the early Bitcoin gambling scene.
  4. BitLotto: BitLotto was a Bitcoin-based lottery platform that allowed users to purchase tickets with Bitcoin for a chance to win the jackpot.
  5. Bit777: Bit777, launched in 2013, was one of the early Bitcoin casinos that offered a variety of slot games and table games.
  6. StrikeSapphire: StrikeSapphire was another early Bitcoin casino, providing a range of casino games, including video poker, slots, and baccarat.
  7. Satoshi Slot: Satoshi Slot was a simple Bitcoin slot machine game launched in 2013, where players could bet with Bitcoin and potentially win more coins.

If we had to pick one man in history who was instrumental in the early days of crypto casinos it would have been Erik Voorhees. At one point he was responsible for over half of Bitcoin transactions online.

He was once a Bitcoin Maximalist, “I used to be a maximalist. Obviously when I got into Bitcoin, it was kind of the only coin,” he says.

“As other coins came out I dismissed them, scoffed at them, and generally didn’t like them because I felt like they were a distraction from the important project.”

He changed his mind around 2014.

Competing Claims

bitZino’s basic interface circa 2013

Some people have claimed that bitZino was the first Bitcoin Casino, but after a bit of research (which anyone can check) the team here at Crypto Lists can see that it looks like SatoshiDice beat Bitzino.com by a few weeks to claim this historic crown.

Owner and developer of bitZino, Larry Tad claimed in interviews that any single-player game can be made provably fair. On a well-known BTC-focused forum he appeared in mid-June 2012 explaining that a HTML 5 powered Bitcoin casino had been created, offering blackjack, craps, roulette, slots, three card poker and video poker.

“One of the largest hurdles to creating a good provably fair system is explaining to users exactly what it is. When developing our provably fair system at bitZino, we put a lot of effort into making sure we were able to accurately portray to our users how it all works.”

 

– Larry Tad, bitZino, Bitcoin Talk Forum, June 15 2012

Wayback Machine – a tool to look at the history of websites via a digital archive  – picks up the bitZino site in Jan 2013, whilst Satoshi Dice was archived on May 12, 2012, which is one month earlier than the Bitzino opening announcement on bitcointalk.org on June 15th. In our estimation this makes SatoshiDice the first Bitcoin Casino.

Historic Bitcoin Casinos: Suprise Contenders

SealsWithClubs is worth a mention as it was a Bitcoin poker site created in 2011, but not a fully fledged Bitcoin casino, therefore failing to take that top spot. It is though the first Bitcoin poker site, which is a high honour indeed.

It was clear that many other early adopters in the historic Bitcoin casino space and sunk into the murk of the virtual history of the internet. Eventually mainstream online casinos started to add a Bitcoin component and decided if you can’t beat them, join them.

A Timeline for Bitcoin Casinos

  1. 2009: Bitcoin is introduced by Satoshi Nakamoto, marking the beginning of the cryptocurrency era.
  2. 2012: The first Bitcoin casino, SatoshiDice, is launched by Erik Voorhees, offering a simple dice game and demonstrating the potential of Bitcoin in the gambling industry.
  3. 2013: Bitcoin gains more popularity, leading to the emergence of several new Bitcoin casinos, expanding the variety of games available to players.
  4. 2014: Bitcoin casinos continue to grow, attracting both cryptocurrency enthusiasts and traditional gamblers looking to experience the benefits of using Bitcoin for gambling.
  5. 2015: Ethereum, a blockchain platform supporting smart contracts, is introduced, leading to the exploration of new possibilities in blockchain-based casino games.
  6. 2017: The ICO boom leads to the funding of several blockchain-based casinos, although some turn out to be fraudulent or unsuccessful.
  7. 2018: Bitcoin casinos start to integrate altcoins like Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash, expanding the range of cryptocurrency options for players. Perhaps birthing the wider encompassing term ‘crypto casinos’.
  8. 2019: Bitcoin casinos become more sophisticated, offering provably fair gaming and innovative features to enhance player trust and transparency.
  9. 2020: The increasing mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies brings more traditional online casinos to accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payment options.
  10. 2021: Bitcoin casinos gain broader recognition, attracting a diverse audience beyond the crypto community. Some well-established online casinos also start offering exclusive cryptocurrency gambling sections.
  11. 2022: Regulatory developments and increasing interest from institutional investors further solidify cryptocurrencies’ place in the gambling industry.
  12. 2023: Bitcoin casinos continue to evolve, leveraging the latest technologies and innovations to enhance the user experience and security.

The Crypto Casino Conclusion

After exploring the history of Bitcoin casinos, it’s safe to say they’re here to stay. There are now thousands of cryptocurrency casinos generating billions in revenues combined. With great security, ease of transaction and multiple game offerings the Bitcoin casino is only going to evolve further and traditional brick and mortar as well as fiat online casinos will have to learn to coexist with the new breed.

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