I have a few bitcoins, nothing crazy, and I’m not hording them for when (which is a big IF) the value goes sky high. I’m definitely a gambler but I don’t think they are great as an investment. To say it is high volatility is an understatement, but bitcoins are pretty damn good for sending/receiving money as the transaction fee is relatively tiny (can be under $1 to send $5k) compared to other options an is pennies for small transactions. Oh, and it’s basically instant – can take up to a minute for the network peers to verify.
I just started dabbling with using bitcoins for gambling, mainly sports betting. Using these bitcoins to deposit and withdraw at bitcoin betting sites (like betcoinsports.com) is 100 times easier than using a US online sportsbook where cashing out my winning takes a few days and can cost $25. The movement is “kind of” anonymous (there is a public ledger of all bitcoin transactions) and completely eliminates the need to use any third party.
The Betcoin Sports website is a bitcoin sportsbook that has all the sports you could think of, PLUS a full casino including craps, blackjack, roulette, baccarat and slots. For playing poker with bitcoins, SealswithClubs.eu is the biggest/best so far and has been around a few years now.
Some big bettors are now recognizing the great perks that seem to be offered by bitcoin gambling websites. The problem is that most of the bitcoin betting sites are newer (under 1 year old) and almost all of them are not licensed. This brings obvious opportunities for scammers. The easiest way to limit risk is to only deposit the amount of bitcoin you are going to play with and after your gambling session, cash it out directly to your wallet. There is no point in leaving your bitcoins at the betting site for your next session, especially since transactions fees are so minimal.
Bitcoin operates in a completely decentralized manner, meaning that there is no chance that a government authority will be able to prevent its users from making transactions related to gambling, or seize funds that are held in a private wallet.