LAS VEGAS (AP) – A city built as a lark and embracing novelties ever since – is getting one more. Starting this week, patrons will be able to use the digital currency bitcoin to pay for rooms, food or drinks at two downtown casinos.
The D casino and the city's oldest casino, the Golden Gate, will accept bitcoins at hotel front desks beginning Wednesday. The currency will be accepted at the D's gift shop and two restaurants. U.S. dollars remain the only currency accepted on the gambling floors of the casinos.
Earlier this month, the Salt Lake City-based retailer Overstock.com became the first major outlet to accept bitcoins as payment for goods.
"We would have to have an extremely high level of comfort with virtual currency of this kind in order for [gambling with bitcoins] to ever occur."
Unlike most government-issued currency, the value of bitcoins can fluctuate rapidly. For that the two Vegas casinos will use a bitcoin broker that immediately exchanges the digital coins into dollars, as Overstock.com does.
Advocates describe bitcoin as the foundation of a Utopian economy: no borders, no change fees, no closing hours, and no one to tell you what you can and can't do with your money.
Derek Stevens, the co-owner of the two casinos, said he's been intrigued by bitcoin for years and has spoken with patrons who wondered if the casinos would start to accept it.
He said it's tough to forecast how many patrons will pay for dinners and souvenirs with the digital currency, but predicted that other casinos will soon adopt it.
"It's going to be somewhat exciting to see what kind of impact it'll have," he said.
State regulators are unlikely to allow casinos to exchange playing chips for bitcoins any time soon though, according to A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
The industry has not approached regulators about approving the currency for gambling.
"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 said.
Bitcoin made its debut four years ago and has been gaining momentum ever since, slowly shedding its label of Internet oddity and approaching a more mainstream status.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.