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legal Aug 08, 2017

IS GAMBLING WITH BITCOIN LEGAL?

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By: Fortunejack Team

Is Gambling with Bitcoin Legal?

Online gambling is legal in many parts of the world and most of the top casinos aim to make it as easy as possible for players to deposit and play their favorite games by offering multiple currencies for payment, including Bitcoin.

In countries where gambling is legal, bitcoin-exclusive casinos are becoming more popular because of all the benefits associated with the currency. Here’s what you need to know about Bitcoin gambling in countries where it is legal, and even where it isn’t.

Are Bitcoin gambling sites and casinos legal?

In countries where gambling is legal, most currencies and payment options are accepted, fiat or not, but this doesn’t mean that Bitcoin is automatically legal, because some countries have placed restrictions and taxes on Bitcoin cash-outs. But, even where gambling is illegal, there are still ways to gamble online via sites being offered and run from other countries. 


What users love about online gambling sites, and particularly those that offer bitcoin as a currency, is the benefit of anonymity. This makes it difficult for authorities to trace players, which is why, as a general principle, governments usually impose a penalty on those who operate gambling enterprises illegally rather than the players.

 

There are two main areas that majorly influence the legalities around online gambling with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in different countries:

 

  • The legal status of online gambling in general
  • The legal status of Bitcoin as a currency


Where is online gambling allowed?

 

If online gambling with fiat money is declared legal in your country, then it’s more than likely that gambling with Bitcoin is legal too. Here’s a look at a few of the most online gambling and bitcoin-friendly countries to date.

 

Australia

Online gambling status: Friendly

Bitcoin status: Very friendly

 

It is legal for residents in Australia to gamble online, but it is illegal for gambling operators to offer their services from within the country. That means that online casinos operating in legal jurisdictions can offer their services to players in Australia.

The Australian government is all for the use of cryptocurrencies - if it is properly regulated for the safety of its citizens and there are systems in place to prevent money-laundering. On the topic of Bitcoin specifically, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia has commented that using Bitcoin is completely legal, adding "there’s no law against that".

 

Canada

Online gambling status: Friendly

Bitcoin status: Very friendly

 

Like Australia, Canada allows its residents to gamble online, however, it prohibits gambling that is offered by a company that isn’t owned or licensed by a provincial government. When it comes to Bitcoin use specifically, it seems the Canadian government has made no formal ban on the cryptocurrencies’ use. 

A light restriction is a positive gain for Bitcoin users since Canada was the first country in the world to pass legislation surrounding Bitcoin, they seem to have paved the way for introducing ways to protect users while allowing the cryptocurrency to flourish. Many top-ranking Canadian casinos accept payments in bitcoins. In 2013 the first Bitcoin ATM was installed in Vancouver and today there are over 20, with Toronto and Vancouver dubbed the “Bitcoin hubs”.

In summary, if you are gambling online in Canada with Bitcoin, you are not subject to any regulation, unless you are an online gambling vendor or Bitcoin broker.

 

UK

Online gambling status: Regulated, friendly

Bitcoin status: Very friendly

 

It is legal to gamble online in the UK, provided that the gambling service provider has applied for and has been granted a UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) issued Remote Gaming Permit. And in August 2016, the UKGC officially gave the UK licensed online casinos permission to accept bitcoin as a deposit and cash out method.

To lessen occurrences of money laundering, and because of bitcoins huge impact on online gambling’s popularity, the Bank of England has been keeping its eye on Bitcoin technology and innovations, even asking citizens to share ideas on ways to better its monetary system.

In the UK, Bitcoin is considered "private money," and VAT is applied as normal. All exchanges for services and goods that accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are taxed.

 

France

Online gambling status: Regulated, friendly

Bitcoin status: Friendly

 

From the creation of the roulette wheel to the original version of baccarat, France has contributed to the birth of several forms of gambling we use today. But, any form of gambling in France requires a license, even though the regulations are not particularly strict - authorities that monitor gambling do so mainly to keep French residents from becoming addicted.


Is it legal to gamble online in the States?

The FBI has said: "You can go to Vegas. You can go to Atlantic City. You can go to a racetrack. You can go to those places and gamble legally. But don’t do it online. It’s against the law”.  While gambling is legally restricted in the USA, the number of sites available and interest in online gambling hasn’t slowed down, and gambling under federal law is legal, leading to the USA being dubbed by some as “the most bitcoin-friendly country in the world".

To be sure that the site you’re betting on is licensed by the US, look out for whether it’s registered on the gaming board’s website, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). If that isn’t enough to put your mind at ease if you’re gambling using Bitcoin online in the States - the FBI has made it clear that they’re, "going after the people making the money", so unless you run an illegal gambling site, chances are you’re safe.

 

Countries that regulate the use of bitcoin and crypto currencies


Online gambling accounts for 29% of all gambling in Britain, bringing in £12.6bn from October 2014 - September 2015. Because gambling is such a popular pastime and profession, it’s not surprising that in countries where it’s banned, or heavily regulated, the gambling presence and demand for bitcoin is still large.

 

Bangladesh

The Central Bank of Bangladesh is mainly concerned over Bitcoin's lack of "a central payment system" leading to citizens being "financially harmed". Bangladesh has restricted the use of Bitcoin, regulating the trading of the currency as payments. 

 

Bolivia

In Bolivia, the central bank has declared Bitcoin use illegal as well as the use of other cryptocurrencies. The El Banco Central de Bolivia said in a statement: "It is illegal to use any kind of currency that is not issued and controlled by a government or an authorized entity."

 

Russia

In 2016 the Russian government's stance on cryptocurrencies seem to shift – a new law that would see Bitcoin regulated as a foreign currency was revealed by Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev. Bitcoin use isn’t officially legal, for example, Localbitcoins.com is still blocked for Russian users, which could reveal regulations and laws placed on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at any time.

As more people use bitcoin to gamble with online, or as payment for services and goods, the currency will no doubt continue to grow in a manner affecting local and international economies.

The officials implementing laws struggle to understand how to regulate the use and taxing of bitcoin – supporting a revolution of the economy online and the ‘internet of money’ could foster better growth.

 

Remember, while gambling laws generally pertain to the operators and casinos, individual players are free to enjoy playing online, as long as you make sure the casino is licenced, credible, and offers great support.