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Somehow the combination of high-stakes gaming, a digital currency, and an ATM on the Strip doesn’t make us think of the most salubrious characters.
Tucked inside a gift shop on a modest stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard South, a new way for visitors to get cash went live today: the Strip’s first Bitcoin ATM.
As with a regular ATM, people who use this Bitcoin version can deposit funds into online accounts or withdraw cash. But instead of using a debit card to access a bank account, customers can convert their cash to Bitcoins or vice versa by inputting their phone number and PIN number and verifying their identity via a palm-print scanner.
Bitcoin, a digital version of money, is not backed by any country and takes no physical form. It can be cashed out into standard currency, however.
Bitcoin’s exchange value can vary literally minute by minute. Around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, one Bitcoin was worth about $560, according to a conversion website.
The new machine is located at 3735 Las Vegas Blvd. South, near the Travelodge just south of Harmon Avenue. A Bitcoin account is required to use the machine, but accounts can be created using the machine.
Though it’s still a relatively niche product, Bitcoin has already established a presence in the Las Vegas market. In May, the D Las Vegas opened the state’s first Bitcoin ATM on its premises — a few months after the D and the Golden Gate began accepting Bitcoins for nongaming purchases.
“It’s something we see only going to be growing,” said Chris McAlary, the owner of the new ATM. “I want to be on the forefront of keeping the Las Vegas tourist scene ahead of the curve.”
Gamblers still can’t use Bitcoins as direct substitutes for cash on casino floors, but they can walk to the ATM and use it to convert Bitcoins into cash for gaming.
Soon, users may not even have to make that much effort. McAlary said he’s working on putting Bitcoin ATMs directly inside Strip casinos.