Winning Poker Network (WPN) is now paying between 90-95% of total player winnings in Bitcoin, with interest boosted by the recent upsurge in the currency’s value.
WPN Pays out Close to $160m a Month in Bitcoin Player Winnings
Bitcoin’s recent bullish run is reminiscent of the cryptocurrency’s overnight success in December 2017 which ended up in an anticipated crash, writing off 70% of the currency value throughout 2018. Yet, for poker brands out there, the surge in Bitcoin value has spurred interest in the currency.
Speaking to Bloomberg, AmericasCardRoom.eu and Winning Poker Network chief executive Phil Nagy elaborated on how Bitcoin’s skyrocketing price has impacted the poker site, which now pays out close to 90-95% of player winnings in Bitcoin.
This amounts to $158 million monthly, up from the 60% previously paid in Bitcoin, or around $100 million. The website has had to adapt very quickly, purchasing Bitcoin from over-the-counter trading desks to be able to keep up with demand.
“We constantly have to go out and buy Bitcoin — lots. Lots. More than we’ve even had to before,” Nagy told Bloomberg.
Bitcoin has taken quite a bit of getting used to, but the website’s offshore status has forced most Americans, who represent the largest group of players on the website, to learn and adopt BTC as a way of circumnavigating restrictions that apply to most transactions carried out through traditional banking methods.
Online poker is currently illegal in the majority of states in the United States, and only 11 states allow some form of online gambling, out of 50 total. The Bitcoin boom has been good for everyone, with brokers now charging a hefty 1.5% premium on transactions.
Adopting Bitcoin in Poker Rooms, Slow but Steady
Many poker players from the United States have mostly turned to Bitcoin in a bid to avoid taxation, which the US government is quickly catching on to. Nagy said that AmericasCardRoom.eu and WPN do not bother with regulating player earnings or reporting player taxes.
The sole responsibility for submitting one’s earnings lies with the players, Nagy told Bloomberg. Some observers have expressed concern that the move an attempt by WPN to dodge responsibility in the matter.
In any event, the network has been going strong with Bitcoin since 2014, following a slow adoption, which surged around the same time Bitcoin began breaking records in December 2017.
Another milestone reached by WPN is the Guinness World Record for the biggest crypto jackpot in online poker worth $1 million.
If anything, WPN has benefited from the interest in Bitcoin, but the network has been forced to convert Bitcoin into FIAT currency almost as soon as players make deposits to avoid price fluctuations writing off value, Nagy explained for Bloomberg.
He added that many people would often hurry and deposit $100,000 or $200,000 worth of Bitcoin to try and liquidate before a force major happened in the ecosystem upsetting the value.
In the meantime, the pandemic did have a chilling effect on the brick-and-mortar poker industry, but it has buoyed up the online poker vertical.
Even the World of Series of Poker decided to shift its format online, initially announcing that the World Series of Poker Main Event will be played online, but recently announcing that the winner, Stoyan Madanzhiev, will not be considered the Main Event winner and that instead a new ‘Hybrid’ Main Event has been scheduled for December.