Why and How NFTs Are Entering the Online Poker Industry
Following the continued digital transformation across gaming, more and more gaming providers have begun embracing NFTs. As a matter of fact, some of the most popular NFT-focused video games have even surpassed $1 billion in trade volume. However, while most games use NFTs as more of a reward, the online poker industry has cleverly optimized the tokens for a much more impactful gaming experience.
What Are NFTs?
Short for non-fungible tokens, NFTs are unique digital assets that cannot be replaced. As such, when they are traded or acquired, they stand for their own one-of-a-kind value and merit. This is unlike cryptocurrencies, which are fungible. As such, trading crypto does not change the final merit that the holder has. NFTs can virtually be anything, so long as they’re digital. Recently, some popular NFTs include memes, pictures, music, and digital art. NFTs are so hotly received today that some have even sold for upwards of $60 million. Interestingly, while NFTs are non-fungible, they can technically have infinite copies. So NFT holders hold their own ownership of a specific work but do not retain copyright or reproduction rights. Nevertheless, to date, the NFT market is estimated to be worth around $11 billion.
Why Poker is Betting on Digital Assets—And How They’re Doing It
For starters, NFTs are not the first digital assets the online poker industry has embraced. As early as 2014, online poker has been an early adopter of cryptocurrency. Aside from the allure that crypto brings, the decade’s biggest financial diversifier also offers wider industry benefits that encourage platforms to continue rolling them out. Case in point, many believe that crypto can help to legalize online poker. This is because cryptocurrency’s decentralized nature provides a loophole outside of the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. This act prohibits poker sites and banks from dealing with any cross-state betting. However, since crypto eliminates the need for a third party, this means that more states and players can take part in online poker without infringing on the act. So far, cryptocurrency in poker has encouraged over $100 million worth of monthly traffic in leading poker sites.
Inspired by this success, many online casinos and poker providers are investing in NFTs now, too. Since NFTs are currently a hot commodity, online poker platforms that hinge on these digital assets are able to attract more players. Such is the case in platforms like the ICE Casino in Decentraland. According to reports, the virtual casino requires players to purchase NFTs to play. Despite the steep price tag of about $6,500 per NFT, the demand for these tokens still sees more than 1,000 players playing online at any given time. This is despite some players admittedly not being huge poker players themselves. Outside of online poker matches, the adoption of NFTs has also offered industry stakeholders a chance to commemorate poker history. For instance, professional poker player Tony G released his own NFT cards featuring his popular catchphrases like “On your bike!” Additionally, even the World Poker Tour (WPT) created a set of NFTs that featured iconic poker moments. These NFTs came in varying levels of scarcity and aim to attract collectors.
Will NFT-Powered Poker Be The Norm?
Despite the buzz surrounding NFTs, these digital assets won’t be the leading currency in online poker anytime soon. Despite their popularity, there is still much debate about their long-term value. As of June 2022, daily NFT sales dipped to 19,000. This is in comparison to the all-time high record of over 220,000 daily sales in September 2021. Now while this NFT slow-down proves that NFTs will not be taking over online poker, this doesn’t reduce their potential. Currently, several other online poker platforms are anchoring on NFTs. For example, there’s the aforementioned ICE Casino and Polker. As such, any players who want to dabble in digital assets and enjoy a new twist to their online poker experience, shouldn’t think twice about betting on NFTs.
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