Bitcoin tokens in Sandy, Utah.(Photo: Rick Bowmer, AP)
(USA TODAY) -- Who needs poker chips? There's a new currency coming to Las Vegas casinos: the Bitcoin.
Starting Wednesday, The D Las Vegas Casino Hotel and Golden Gate Hotel & Casino will begin collecting the digital currency that merchants are increasingly starting to accept.
The two downtown Vegas properties, which share an owner, will accept the currency at five locations, including their front desks and the D's Gift Shop. Guests can also use the currency at the D Hotel's American Coney Island hot dog shop and Joe Vicari's Andiamo Italian Steakhouse.
The Bitcoin purchases will be processed through BitPay, which allows merchants to accept Bitcoins just as they would Visa, MasterCard or Paypal.
Bitcoin users buy the currency and typically store them in a virtual mobile wallet. They can then make anonymous purchases on the Internet. The downside of Bitcoin is that they are not distributed by traditional banks and aren't regulated as such. Their value also fluctuates.
Still, mainstream merchants such as Overstock.com are starting to accept the currency.
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The travel industry has been slow to embrace Bitcoins. But Derek Stevens, CEO of the D and Golden Gate, says he's willing to take a gamble. It is Vegas after all.
"I'm proud that the D and Golden Gate will be the first casino properties to accept Bitcoin," Stevens says. "We're located in the growing high-tech sector of downtown Las Vegas, and like all things downtown, we're quickly adaptive to new technology. The timing is right for us to launch this initiative."
Stevens says he decided to accept Bitcoins after several patrons asked him to. Tablets programmed with BitPay will now be installed at each cashier.
Perhaps it is apropos for the Golden Gate to adopt the new technology. Built in 1906, it is Vegas' oldest casino. It was also the first property in the city to install a telephone.
Guests can still look at that 1907 Kellogg telephone in a display case located just steps away from the cashiers that will soon begin processing Bitcoins.