Hedging Your Bets: The Prospects of Cryptocurrency Use in Online Gambling : A Mixed-Methods Study
Abstract: Since its initial inception, cryptocurrency has hit the world with both intrigue and skepticism. It was acting as an alternative form of currency that people could use that required no regulative authority to back it. As such, people had the option to make purchases in anonymous manners, leading to what most would consider unethical behaviours, and ultimately resulted in cryptocurrency gaining a poor reputation. However, specific trends in society have helped cryptocurrency growth to continue. A societal loss of trust in the traditional banking system and the positive perception towards the blockchain technology, which is a peer-to-peer system that cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, operate on are two such trends. Furthermore, recent years have witnessed exponential increases in the prices of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. This has led to widespread stories of people getting rich through cryptocurrency ownership, having been “wise-enough” to buy in on the cryptocurrency trend early enough to reap in the rewards of such as decision. And as a result, leading to more people wanting to be the next big success story and buying in on the cryptocurrency trend. This growing trend has also gained the attention of several multi-national companies, such as Expedia, Subway and Microsoft, who have begun accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment. Even though specific cases have seen this strategy implemented successfully, the volatility of cryptocurrency still poses a risk that has hindered the ability of cryptocurrency to become a widespread payment option. Given the current trend surrounding cryptocurrency, this thesis serves the purpose is to investigate another alternative option for cryptocurrency use. That option being the potential for cryptocurrency to be used as an alternative payment option in the online gambling industry. Where it has been used as a payment option in other areas, it would be interesting to identify whether there is potential for the cryptocurrency to be adopted and used in this particular industry as well. In order to investigate this phenomenon from both the consumer and industry point-of-views, this thesis used a mixed-methods study, which consisted of a qualitative study and quantitative study. Our qualitative study focused on the industry side of the phenomena. To carry it out, we conducted a series of semi-structured interviews with managers of a large online gambling company in order to gain deeper knowledge on their perspectives regarding their perceptions towards how cryptocurrency adoption would affect the online gambling industry. Based on the information gained from the interviews, specific themes were identified and further analyzed through a thematic analysis. Those themes included blockchain in online gambling, holding cryptocurrency, regulation and the reputation of cryptocurrency. Our results indicated that managers did not believe the industry was ready to adopt cryptocurrency due to specific regulatory factors, but that it had future potential, mainly regarding its association to blockchain. Our quantitative study focused on interpreting the perceptions of online gamblers regarding cryptocurrency use in online gambling. Specifically, identifying what would motivate them to use cryptocurrency in online gambling and if they were willing to accept it as a payment option. Based on the results obtained through a survey we distributed, we used linear regression to identify if online gamblers were willing to accept cryptocurrency. The resulting outcome was a moderate level of rejection towards cryptocurrency acceptance. The linear regression model also allowed us to interpret which predictor variables held the greatest level of importance towards predicting cryptocurrency acceptance. Those specific variables included cryptocurrency anonymity, usability, ownership, and belief in the future of cryptocurrency. When comparing the results from both studies through triangulation, we were able to conclude that both consumers and the industry were not ready to fully accept cryptocurrency usage in online gambling. However, both sides indicated positive outlooks towards its future potential as a payment method.
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