Online gambling for Bitcoins in UK: loopholes sealed

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Updated: March 23, 2016

2015 saw UK following other counties’ suit in their attempt to introduce a heavier regulation of Bitcoin and its usage in the field of virtual gambling.

Last year, the authorities of a series of countries in Europe got down to revision of their policy towards Internet gambling, having clear intentions to stamp out the problems and evils in the field everyone is well aware about, starting with new regulatory and licensing arrangements, reinforcing minor gambling prevention, a more rigorous approach to the advertising of gaming services and possibilities, and better transparence of the industry overall. The proclaimed aim of such steps being taken was to increase the safety of online casino gaming, at the same time developing the understanding of responsible gameplay in gamblers. Interestingly, the issue in the UK assumed serious dimensions also for Bitcoin, the virtual casino industry’s newly-emerged payment solution.

UK’s principal gambling regulatory body, known as UKGC (the last two letters standing for “Gambling Commission”), was quick to inform online gambling businesses supporting Bitcoin payments there was no possibility for them to circumvent the country’s gambling laws any further. Apart from it, in their attempt to shrink the now-unlawful activities in the field – these, according to UKGC chief Jenny Williams, being predominantly the offer and illegal advertising of various gambling services to gamblers – the regulators gave notice to casino websites operating in the UK they had no choice but to officially receive a license enabling them to conduct business in Britain, irrespective of the actual state they are registered in, or the currencies they support transactions in.

Just unlike most other countries where screws on gambling had been tightened a long time ago, up until last year the industry felt rather at home in Britain where there were no legal barriers set up for it essentially. UK saw the rise of gambling in its initial forms as late as after the Second World War only, with the British troops coming back home introduced the masses to bingo, a popular classical casino game. In 1960, the Betting and Gaming act allowing social clubs to establish in-house bingo communities was issued, followed by 1968 Gaming Act intended to determinately liberalize the field even more and known for actually laying foundation for the industry of commercial gaming in its more or less modern form.

Through 2015, gambling pretty much thrived in Britain, and, speaking of Bitcoin gambling portals, there were no changeovers expected for them as such. The cryptocurrency was still officially considered anything but a payment instrument that can be used alongside real money, and it was back in 2013 that the country’s government even was purposed to exempt Bitcoin businesses from the necessity to obtain a license, not to speak of the absence of any regulation in the industry. The officials were opposed by the tax office which found the country’s purchase tax indeed fully reached Bitcoin payments and transactions conducted either by companies and individuals. Two years after, the government finally came to a conclusion Bitcoin did require a heavier regulation to be introduces the UK, not just to comply with the EU norms and regulations, but also to clamp down on virtual currency exchanges and discontinue any illegal financial operations, including whitewashing, conducted through their agency.

The dawn of online gambling dates back to the beginning of 90s, when the industry started gaining its momentum. Being seen as a revolutionary cutting-edge technology, or, rather, functionality, Internet casino gaming was able to completely change people’s vision of how and where it was more convenient to enjoy their favorite gambling activities. Aside from it, gambling business owners also saw greater benefit in online casinos, as after establishing their own casino websites, is was completely needless for them to keep running their gambling houses and purchase necessary equipment. Instead, now they had a chance to attract new customers and increase the loyalty of existing ones by spending the idle money on new gaming possibilities (multimedia content range) for the latter, as well as new bonuses and promos.

Online gambling may seem a solution to all previous inconveniences associated with gaming at traditional casinos, but in reality, it has been able to take up just about 10 per cent of the whole industry globally, with the explanation being rather trivial. Owners of huge land-based casino empires like the vehement US billionaire Sheldon Adelson seek to restrict or even completely ban online gambling, and they are wealthy and powerful enough to have their interests lobbied for them by influential politicians.

As of now, Bitcoin and most other digital currencies are sustainable enough to continue as the most efficient currency used in the field of Internet gambling, against the backdrop of a whole set of disadvantages virtual players have to deal with when making deposits or payouts in real money. BTC transactions are quicker by a factor of hundreds, and the fees applied to them are just trifling, meaning it’s just the lack of people’s awareness about its benefits that separates the cryptocurrency from penetrating other markets.