The flashy lights and star-studded shows of the Las Vegas strip are about to be joined by the rising celebrity of currency, Bitcoin. As of next week, two of Sin City’s casinos, The D Las Vegas Casino Hotel and Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, the city’s oldest, will be accepting Bitcoin in five of their locations.
Golden Gate, the first casino in the city to install a telephone and the first to offer shrimp cocktails on its menu, prides itself on being ahead of the curve. Derek Stevens, co-owner of both casinos, acknowledges that consumer interest coupled with pressure from the presence of other forward-thinking businesses in the area have played no small part in the decision. “Zappos is only a block away from us,” he told Cade Metz of Wired. “People started asking me: ‘Do you accept bitcoin?’”
According to Jerry Brito, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University, the immediacy of processing and absence of transaction fees offered by Bitcoin affords the virtual currency the potential to catch up to other payment forms. In an interview with USA Today, Brito likened an increased use of Bitcoin to the arrival of credit cards in the 60s, when people had previously only used cash and checks. He reinforced the public’s embrace of new payment options and the willingness of businesses to promote technology by adding, “and then Paypal came along.”
Though the move to include Bitcoin in casinos is receiving equal amounts of enthusiasm and press, its use will be limited to the gift shops, hotels and bistros. According to all parties involved, Bitcoin will not be allowed on the casino floors for the foreseeable future. A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, was very clear that state regulators are in no hurry to replace the current cash-only system. “We would have to have an extremely high level of comfort with virtual currency of this kind in order for that to ever occur,” Burnett told Bloomberg Press.
Even Stevens agrees that there needs to be more clarity from the IRS, the U.S. Treasury, and the Department of Justice before Bitcoin receives an extension, saying “once we have more from our government, we might be able to implement bitcoin for casino gaming, but I think we’re still a ways away from that.”
Until then, consumers will have to be content with cashing in their Bitcoin on souvenirs, suites, and shrimp cocktails.