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Porn, basketball and taxes: Bitcoin is on a hot streak

Jan. 16, 2014 at 1:04 PM ET

SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 4:  DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings dunks the ball against the Charlotte Bobcats at Sleep Train Arena on January...
Rocky Widner / Getty Images file
Good news, Kings fans: Now you can see DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins play without using cash or credit cards.

Too many bitcoins and no place to spend them? Soon you will be able to splurge on all kinds of things, starting with tickets to see the Sacramento Kings play basketball.

Bitcoin, the virtual currency, has been promoted as the payment method of the future, thanks to the fact that transactions are anonymous and don't subject retailers to the same fraud risks that credit cards do. (Consumers, however, have little recourse if their bitcoins are stolen.)

Now multiple businesses are jumping on the bitcoin bandwagon. The Sacramento Kings, along with the Golden State Warriors, are the home team for many Silicon Valley techies. On Thursday, the organization announced that it would become the first professional sports team to accept bitcoins for tickets and team merchandise. 

That's right, Kings fans. Starting on March 1, you will be able to buy tickets to see the one-and-only DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins play without pulling out your credit card, thanks to a partnership with payment processor BitPay. 

"I think this is huge. The Kings are a worlwide brand," Stephanie Wargo, BitPay's vice president of marketing, told NBC News. "It just goes to show how rapidly bitcoin is growing and expanding."

The relationship blossomed quickly, with Kings representatives approaching BitPay last week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Wargo said. Starting in mid-March, payments will expand beyond online tickets and merchandise to in-stadium purchases, meaning fans will be able to pay for everything from hot dogs to foam fingers with the BitPay smartphone app.

The move gives new Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé — who took over the franchise from Joe and Gavin Maloof this year — a chance to make headlines despite the team's less-than-stellar record. 

"The Kings really wanted to be first to accept BitPay, because it really goes with their mission this year, but I would definitely expect other announcements from other sports franchises in the future," Wargo said. 

But why should consumers stop at tickets for sporting events? The fact that bitcoin doesn't leave a paper trail is making it a popular method of payment for another product: pornography. Yes, according to The Guardian, ever since Porn.com started accepting the virtual currency, a full 25 percent of the site's subscriptions have been paid in bitcoins.

In a market where discretion is key, it wouldn't be surprising to see more porn sites to start promoting bitcoin payments in the future.

Perhaps less salacious is the ability to pay taxes with bitcoin — a reality made possible by Silicon Valley-based snapCard. That is possible thanks to the start-up's relationship with a third-party processor that connects the Internal Revenue Service with various credit card companies. 

This all comes on the heels of the news that Overstock.com racked up $126,000 in bitcoin sales over its first day of accepting the virtual currency last week. 

Whether or not it can keep up its momentum remains to be seen. Its volatility has created doubts that bitcoin can ever be a viable currency as people hang on to their bitcoins instead of spending them in hopes that their value will go up. Still, bitcoin enthusiasts can enjoy a basketball game — or at least pay off some of their debts — as they wait for the situation to play out. 

Keith Wagstaff writes about technology for NBC News. He previously covered technology for TIME's Techland and wrote about politics as a staff writer at TheWeek.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @kwagstaff and reach him by email at: Keith.Wagstaff@nbcuni.com

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