Sacramento Kings first major US sports franchise to take Bitcoin

Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:00pm EST
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By Laila Kearney

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The Sacramento Kings basketball team has become the first U.S. professional sports franchise to allow purchases using the unregulated online payment system Bitcoin, team officials said on Thursday.

Kings gear and other items are now available for purchase at the team's retail store using bitcoins, an online currency bought and sold on a peer-to-peer network independent of central authority, the franchise said in a statement.

Starting on March 1, Kings fans will also be able to purchase tickets and pre-order merchandise using the virtual currency, the statement said.

The Kings' managing partner, Vivek Ranadive, said the decision to accept bitcoins was part of a larger move by the Kings franchise toward becoming more technologically advanced, a process he called "NBA 3.0."

"We are maniacally focused on creating the most seamless experience for our fans in all facets," Ranadive said in a statement about his team's new ties with Bitcoin.

"A major tenet of the NBA 3.0 philosophy is about utilizing technology for the betterment of the fan experience, and this is yet another step in that process," he added.

Ranadive, a tech developer and philanthropist, leads a new ownership group that bought the Kings in May in a deal valuing the team at $535 million, following a tug-of-war with Seattle investors who wanted to move the team to the Pacific Northwest.

Since its launch in January 2009, the Bitcoin system has grown popular with people who lack confidence in the conventional banking system. It has also drawn concern over the potential for it to be used for money laundering.   Continued...

Sacramento Kings small forward Rudy Gay (8) shoots the ball against Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Wesley Matthews (2) during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports