Cryptocurrency continues to become more commonplace in our daily lives. Companies such as PayPal, Starbucks and Whole Foods are accepting it as payment for business transactions.
When sports betting in Ohio launches in less than six months, will Ohio bettors be able to use cryptocurrency? The short answer is no.
However, that could change sooner rather than later.
Cryptocurrency is already being used on offshore sites
One prominent example of legal crypto sports betting is Stake.com, an offshore site that operates only using cryptocurrency. The sportsbook made news this year after partnering with Canadian music artist and avid bettor Drake. He has reportedly placed more than $1 billion in bets on the platform since joining last December.
Stake Sportsbook is legal in other countries, such as Canada, where Drake resides. It is inaccessible from within the U.S.
Other illegal offshore sportsbooks also promote crypto as their preferred method for deposits and withdrawals. These come with a laundry list of risks associated with playing. Those include susceptibility to DDoS attacks, which freeze or crash sites, and no guarantee that player funds are completely safe.
First domino has fallen on U.S. sportsbook crypto deposits
Barstool Sportsbook recently became the first operator in the U.S. to support crypto deposits, doing so in Virginia and Colorado. Users in those states can deposit with crypto such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and others. They have to withdraw via traditional means for the time being, however.
Barstool is owned in part by Penn National Gaming, which owns two casinos and two racinos in Ohio. That will give it access to operate in Ohio once sports betting begins on Jan. 1.
In order to use crypto at Barstool, players must be in either Virginia or Colorado and upload their government ID for official verification. The company has said it hopes to expand crypto operations into more states pending regulatory approval.
Currently, players who wish to bet on sports via crypto seem to have three options.
- Use an illegal offshore site that accepts cryptocurrency
- Choose instead to bet on legal sites with U.S. dollars
- Don’t bet at all
Can PayPal bridge the gap?
PayPal officially entered the cryptocurrency space in June. Users can deposit, withdraw and use cryptocurrency to transact the same as with any other funds in their accounts.
PayPal will convert any used cryptocurrency to U.S. dollars at no additional fee. This presumably means that crypto is still not being used to transact directly in all instances. But it effectively works out to the same end-user experience.
Given that PayPal is a legal source of funding sports betting accounts in several states, players in those states can have PayPal convert their crypto into deposit funds. Barstool Sportsbook also allows PayPal deposits. That means people in Colorado and Virginia who have crypto in their PayPal accounts can use it directly to fund their accounts on that site.
Sports betting is becoming crypto-friendly. PayPal may be another important domino to fall. If PayPal is not the long-term solution, it could provide a roadmap.
When sports betting launches, will Ohio bettors be able to use cryptocurrency? At this time, it seems unlikely for Ohioans to have cryptocurrency options from Day 1. But with major sports betting and financial companies increasingly adopting crypto, it is likely to be an option sooner than later.