The nonagenarian said there’s been an “explosion of gambling” while comparing Bitcoin to roulette, sports booking and chain letters.
Warren Buffett once again took up his familiar role as conductor of the FUD train in yet another anti-cryptocurrency interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box on April 12.
“We’ve had an explosion of gambling,” the magnate told CNBC by way of describing the cryptocurrency market. He then added, “I like to bet on a football game if I’m sitting and watching — it makes it more interesting. But I don’t think I want to make a living trying to bet against the house.”
This represents somewhat of a softening of Buffett’s historical stance on Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrency. Over the years, he’s made a habit of down-talking crypto, with some of his most controversial quotes coming from previous CNBC interviews.
"People like to play the lottery," says Warren Buffett on the crypto craze. "It's appealing to the gambling instinct. We've had an explosion of gambling." pic.twitter.com/pjNEKdNgr1— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) April 12, 2023
In a 2014 Squawk Box interview, he told Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert that Bitcoin was “a mirage” and claimed that “the idea that it has some huge intrinsic value is just a joke.”
Buffett ventured speculation on Bitcoin’s longevity in another 2014 CNBC interview, stating that he “would not be surprised if Bitcoin is not around in 10 or 20 years.” At the time, he also said Bitcoin couldn’t be considered a currency because it is “inevitably based on the value of the dollar.”
Related: Buffett back bashing Bitcoin, claims it ‘doesn’t produce anything’
What’s perhaps Buffett’s most famous quote on cryptocurrency came in a January 2018 interview when he doubled down on fellow Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charlie Munger’s previous assertion that Bitcoin was “rat poison” by saying that it was “probably rat poison squared.”
That brings us to his most recent CNBC interview, where Buffett’s tone appears to have changed somewhat.
When asked when Bitcoin will be “revealed as not just rat poison squared [...] But when it will be unveiled as not a thing,” Buffett shrugged off the question and instead compared the cryptocurrency to gambling:
“That’s predicting when speculation will end or when the gambling instinct will go away.”
The billionaire then shifted his response to a brief riff on snail mail chain letters, “I didn’t like chain letters when I was a kid. I thought, ‘Why in the world would I send along a chain letter… when I could start my own?’”
Buffett eventually came back around to his gambling analogy, claiming that Bitcoin users were essentially placing bets with their income: “You had millions of people that were getting checks and the money and sitting home and finding out that they could have a roulette wheel in their house.”
"#Bitcoin is a gambling token and it doesn't have any intrinsic value. But that doesn't stop people from wanting to play the roulette wheel," says Warren Buffett on #crypto. pic.twitter.com/6MQAiyrS5J— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) April 12, 2023
The billionaire’s track record in business may be long and storied, but Buffett’s own Berkshire Hathaway investment group hasn’t been immune to losses related to the recent banking crisis.
As Cointelegraph’s Marcel Pechman wrote in March, “Bitcoin’s price increased by 31.5% in the six months preceding March 17, while Berkshire’s stock increased by 5.8%. So, for the time being, the so-called ‘rat poison’… is outpacing his own financial management firm.”