UK Gambling Commission warns Bitcoin Gaming Sites

Bitcoin gaming sites have been operating in various regulated markets around the world without obtaining proper licensing. And the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) recently issued a warning to prominent Bitcoin sites that they must obtain licensing, or risk harsh penalties.

According to UKGC CEO Jenny Williams, this isn’t a matter of cracking down on certain online casinos and poker sites just because they use Bitcoin, which isn’t regulated by a central government or major bank. Instead, it’s just about ensuring that every iGaming site that offers services to British residents complies with UKGC standards.

“We wrote to these operators because they were either advertising gambling illegally or illegally offering gambling products to consumers or both,” said UKGC CEO Jenny Williams. “The Commission neither prohibits nor encourages bitcoin. We are interested only in ensuring the proper regulation of gambling products consumed in Britain.”

Officials in the UK government have previously suggested that Bitcoin gaming sites be entirely banned, due to the fact that it’s cryptocurrency and not backed by any major institution. Furthermore, Bitcoin is sometimes used in money laundering and illegal transactions. However, the tax authorities and Williams believe that the currency isn’t the issue here, so much as it is simply meeting the UKCG’s licensing and tax requirements.

“The currency is almost irrelevant as all operators need to satisfy themselves, and us, that they can fully meet all our requirements, particularly the requirements that ensure crime is kept out of gambling and consumers are protected,” said Williams.

The United Stats has taken a similar stance towards Bitcoin online casinos and poker sites. They cracked down on SealsWithClubs.eu (SWC) and their founder, Bryan Micon, a Las Vegas resident, for operating in the state of Nevada. Because Nevada features a regulated iGaming environment, any online gaming site that does business there must apply for and receive the proper licensing.

Micon and SWC did not, which prompted Nevada Gaming Control authorities to raid his condo, drag Micon out in his underwear and seize his property. The 36-year-old was charged with a felony count of operating an unlicensed online gaming site, which will be reduced to a gross misdemeanor if he complies with probation, a $25,000 fine and lesser requirements.

So far, the UK has yet to take any such action against Bitcoin operators – although none are believed to be living directly in the UK. But their warning to Bitcoin iGaming sites suggests that they could take some sort of action if their requests aren’t met.

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