Bitcoin gambling operators warned over legality

The UK Gambling Commission has written to gambling operators using bitcoin-only websites to warn them that far from being outside the law as has been suggested in some quarters, the digital currency is actually covered by the UK’s gambling regulations.

The Commission said that it has become concerned about the illegal gambling operators providing facilities for gambling to consumers in Great Britain under the mistaken assumption that bitcoin’s unregulated status means that gambling with bitcoins is also outside of the regulator’s purview. It has now written to a number of website operators offering prizes of money or money’s worth to gamblers in Britain that are not licensed in the UK. It said that as Bitcoin comes under the category of money’s worth, therefore any operator offering this facility to gamblers in Britain requires an operating licence or they are acting illegally.

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

The regulator picked up on the claims from bitcoin operators that they didn’t need a Gambling Commission licence to operate in the UK on social media and has quickly moved to clarify the situation.

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