British gamblers more likely than public to use cryptocurrencies, but scepticism remains

Oliver RoweGlobal Sector Head ‑ Leisure & Entertainment
May 17, 2021, 2:13 PM GMT+0

With each passing year, decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are integrating further into the modern financial system, and the gambling sector is no exception. As the industry entrenches itself more deeply into digital behaviours, it’s important to understand the attitudes gamblers in Britain hold about digital money.

Among those British adults who gamble online at least once a month, 17% say they are likely to use some form of cryptocurrency in the next 12 months, according to YouGov data, which is considerably more than the 11% of British adults in general.

However, there remains a lack of understanding of the concept of cryptocurrency among some punters. While 74% of the general public say they don’t really understand cryptocurrency, that number inches slightly higher among regular online gamblers at 75%.

This dearth of knowledge may be feeding skepticism. For instance, more than half (54%) of the nation’s regular punters say cryptocurrencies are not to be trusted, and again that’s a slightly higher rate than the general public (52%).

Further, 52% of gamblers think blockchain-backed cryptos like Bitcoin are just a passing fad. Once again, that feeling is more pervasive among those who gamble than the general public.

With all that said, it may seem as though crypto will be a tougher sell for gamblers. However, comfort and understanding around it is significantly higher among younger gamblers, even when we compare the group to Britain’s non-gambling Millennial population. A third of Millennial gamblers say cryptocurrencies are the future of online financial transactions and 13% say they’re willing to give up their bank account and use crypto instead.

There are many reasons for the industry and consumers to be excited about this new chapter in currency. Right now, banks don’t have authority of virtual funds, which means the consumer doesn’t have to pay transaction fees on withdrawals or deposits. What’s more, neither the operators nor the users have to worry about exchange rates. Because they are a decentralized asset, there is no need to go through traditional approval channels, meaning transactions are faster than traditional currency transfers.

Looking at the cryptocurrency landscape in general at the moment, it’s still dominated by Bitcoin. Nearly one in seven British adults have used the digital currency in the last year. About a quarter have used Etherium (24%) and 18% have used Binance coin.

Holding cryptocurrency right now isn’t for the faint of heart as digital coins are unregulated and highly speculative. The price of Bitcoin, for example, hit US$60,000 in March before dropping below US$55,000 just days later.

But regular gamblers have a higher tolerance for risk than the general public. For one, this group is more likely to say they like to take risks in the stock market (17% vs. 12% of the general population) and that’s truer still among younger punters (25%).

Crypto is making its way into the mainstream in significant ways and those not offering Bitcoin transactions may want to reconsider in the future. Large established financial brands like Mastercard and PayPal have recently announced intentions to accept cryptocurrency, lending further legitimacy to the concept of digital currency.

Over the next few years, it’s crucial for the industry to track how widespread crypto usage will become and understand their customer’s relationship with decentralized money to ensure they’re offering the payment options their market prefers.

Image: Getty