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Sacramento Kings to accept bitcoin for tickets, merchandise

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The Sacramento Kings will be the first NBA team to accept bitcoin, the controversial digital currency that is increasingly gaining acceptance in the commercial world.

The basketball franchise said customers can already buy merchandise at its team store. By March 1, the Kings will also start accepting bitcoins for tickets and for products bought online.

The NBA team is one of a string of companies and organizations that have recently begun accepting bitcoin for payment, ushering the currency into the mainstream.

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Space travel company Virgin Galactic, retail site Overstock.com and online travel agency CheapAir.com are already open for business with bitcoin users. One university in Cyprus started accepting bitcoins as payment for tuition and other school fees.

The purchases will be processed through BitPay, which quoted Vivek Ranadive, the team's majority owner, describing the move as part of the team's efforts to become "NBA 3.0."

"We are maniacally focused on creating the most seamless experience for our fans in all facets," he said in a statement. "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."

Bitcoin's notoriety soared after the arrest last year of Ross Ulbricht, a 29-year-old from San Francisco who was accused of masterminding the online drug emporium Silk Road. Fans say it is a form of money that is not connected to any nation or government, while critics say it is used often for buying illegal substances online.

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