Anyone who has been paying close attention to the poker industry over the last few years has noticed the great lengths that World Series of Poker officials go to attract new players and retain past customers. This has involved a mixture of presenting innovative new games, variants, buy-in levels, and tournaments, while preserving the history of poker’s past.
As officials continue to look forward to the future, for the WSOP to grow they will have to find new and innovative ways to bring in new players and make the game even more easily accessible to everyone. One way that they could do so is by introducing cryptocurrencies as a way to buy in to events and receive winnings. While this might seem unlikely in the short term, it’s certainly a possibility over the coming years. Let’s take a brief look at how introducing cryptocurrencies can benefit players as well as a couple of potential problems that could arise.
WATCH: Interview with WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel
PRO: No Currency Conversion Hassles
If you live outside the United States and want to play at the World Series of Poker, then you’ll have to convert your funds to USD at some point. While not a difficult process, it is still a bit of a hassle because you’ll also have to convert funds back from dollars to your currency when you’re ready to return home (assuming you still have any money left over, of course).
With bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, you don’t have to worry about currency conversions. You pay the amount of bitcoin required for your buy-in and if you win any money, you cash out in crypto. When you’re ready to sell your cryptocurrency, you can sell it on your preferred exchange (or privately) for your own currency.
CON: The Price of Poker Can Get “Expensive” if Crypto Dips
The primary downside to using cryptocurrency at the moment is considerable market volatility. If bitcoin decides to tank during the WSOP, then it is going to cost more crypto to play in an event. Let’s say that at the start of the World Series of Poker bitcoin will have rebounded to $10,000 USD. That means that you’d be able to buy into the Main Event for 1 bitcoin.
Let’s say you’d hold off on buying your seat and bitcoin would dip down to $6,000 USD. You’re now looking at 1.4 bitcoin to buy your seat. The same applies to earnings. If you run deep in a bracelet event at the start the series with bitcoin at $10,000 and win $25,000, you’d take home 2.5 bitcoin. If bitcoin then proceeded to tank by 40%, you’d lose $10,000 in value.
Crypto World – The sky is falling!! Coins are losing tons of value!!
Me: I’ll buy some of you….and some of you….and some of you…..
— James Guill (@compncards) January 18, 2018
PRO: Faster and Secure Transfer of Funds
Another advantage of using bitcoin to buy in to WSOP events would be speed of fund transfers. Players won’t have to worry about credit card transactions clearing or waiting to have funds wired or transferred to accounts. Instead, they’d make a fast transaction via the blockchain and would know exactly when the WSOP has their monies.
In addition, using bitcoin to pay and to receive payouts from WSOP events would be far more secure than carrying around tons of cash at the Rio. Win $50,000 in a bracelet or side event? Receive a payout to your bitcoin wallet and you wouldn’t have to worry about transporting heaps of cash. We’ve all heard stories about people who have been robbed at the Rio in the past after they were seen flashing around wads of cash. This could help increase both safety and security for players.
CON: Crypto Tax Headaches
For American players (and likely many other countries around the world), using crypto at the WSOP would bring its own share of headaches come tax time. Cryptocurrency is treated differently than other forms of assets. For standard assets like stocks, a taxable event occurs when you sell or dispose of an asset.
However, crypto has its own set of rules. A taxable event occurs anytime that crypto is traded or used to purchase goods or services. In other words, if you would use bitcoin to buy into WSOP events, each transaction is taxable.
On tulips, Bitcoin, and the US Government; at https://t.co/KkrkFdHpSS
— Russell Fox (@russcfox) August 21, 2017
This means that you would need to track every single use of bitcoin at the WSOP for tax purposes. If you use an accountant for your taxes, this is just a matter of a bit of extra record keeping. Those who file their own taxes will want to brush up on their tax laws to ensure that they pay the correct amount of tax to the IRS.
PREDICTION: Don’t Be Shocked to See Crypto Accepted at the WSOP in the Near Future
The number of poker players that are hardcore into crypto continues to grow. In addition, many online bitcoin poker rooms have long been offering players the ability to use their cryptocurrency to fund and cash out from their accounts. Knowing this, it would make sense for the World Series of Poker to at some point give serious consideration to adding crypto as an option for payments and payouts.
Although the assets are highly volatile, there’s still enough utility in cryptocurrencies to make them viable for use at the WSOP. Of course, that volatility would incur some risk for Caesars Interactive Entertainment (the company that owns the WSOP) and also for players, which could cause enough concern to derail implementation.
However, if the WSOP remains committed to finding ways to expanding their global reach and both attracting and retaining players, then it seems likely that they will at least beta test cryptocurrencies in the near future.