The emergence of controversial virtual currency Bitcoin has given high-stakes American sports gamblers the chance to circumnavigate federal anti-betting laws and wager vast sums on major sporting events.
With full-scale betting on sports legal only in Nevada, options have been somewhat limited for those seeking a piece of the action during big games in both college and the pros.
"Bitcoin is the new thing, the new rage," one New York-based poker player and sports bettor told Yahoo! Sports. "There are great options out there and new Bitcoin betting sites springing up all the time. Often they offer better odds or bonuses for signing with them. I personally know of around 15 big money guys who are using it, so in total there must be hundreds."
The complete anonymity afforded by Bitcoin, which technology experts expect to be the first of many similar digital currencies, allows legal restrictions to be avoided. Government jurisdictions have no way of tracking or tracing the source of the money as all transactions are fully encrypted and handled by a decentralized global network.
Bitcoin uses incredibly advanced technology to concoct a heavily encrypted piece of code, which can be purchased at simple online exchange websites such as BitInstant. Users convert their local funds into the digital currency, which can then be traded on a person-to-person basis or used to purchase goods.
Or to gamble with – without the threat of prosecution.
Even if enforcement agencies were able to track through an IP address that a user had visited a Bitcoin gambling website, Bitcoin's encryption makes evidential proof that funds have been deposited and gambled impossible to trace.
Bitcoin's origins are somewhat murky, but also fascinating. Created by a hacker who has never revealed their identity, it was initially used by arms and narcotics dealers, sex traffickers and other unscrupulous entities as a way of transferring money outside of the reach of international law.