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What is bitcoin, and what can you do with it?

Those who have been following the news at all in recent years have no doubt heard of bitcoin. But what exactly is bitcoin? In this post, I will answer this question and also go over some of the things you can do with bitcoin.

Bitcoin is a digital currency (sometimes called a cryptocurrency). It is similar to currency you might find in a video game, as it is a currency that exists solely in the digital realm. What's more bitcoin is decentralized. That's just a fancy way of saying that it is not under the control of any government or institution. All other currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, is backed by a government or some other institution. As such, they are also susceptible to manipulation. Take the dollar, for instance. The U.S. government routinely changes the money supply and even 'prints' dollars to create new money. No such shenanigans are possible with something like the bitcoin, since its issuance is governed by mathematical principles and cannot be tinkered with.

The value of bitcoin is obviously related to the number of people who use the currency. To date, the currency was not widely used, as many retailers did not accept it. But this is slowly changing, and nowadays, you can even find cafes and restaurants that accept bitcoin, although they are still hard to find.

Online, it's a lot easier to use any bitcoins you may own. Many major websites like Overstock now accept bitcoin. Since it's an anonymous currency (if used correctly), bitcoin is also popular among online casinos, and new bitcoin casinos are popping up every day.

But in recent months, it's not only bitcoin that is accepted by casinos. Several casinos have begun to accept ether, dogecoin, and other secondary 'alt' coins. For example, you can find a list of dogecoin casinos here

To obtain bitcoin, you usually need to convert another currency such as the U.S. dollar into bitcoin by using an exchange. One popular exchange is Coinbase (based in San Francisco), but there are dozens of others you can choose from.

Another way you can get bitcoin is by "mining" for them, which requires you to buy powerful computing devices called ASICs. The computers are typically run 24/7 and they solve complex math problems, for which they are rewarded newly minted bitcoins. It's probably not easy for individual miners to make money mining bitcoins, as most mining operations are now being conducted by large companies overseas.

Hopefully, this short article has helped you understand a bit more about what bitcoin is, and how you can take advantage of it.