How Malta is embracing Bitcoin gambling

August 23, 2017

malta-bitcoin-gambling

There haven’t been any particular laws created for bitcoin gambling, even though it’s been around for almost a decade. However, there is no doubt that cryptocurrencies are becoming very popular, and they have many different uses. One of its main uses is in online gambling, where experts believe many participants prefer to use cryptocurrencies to conventional means of payment.

Malta is Europe’s gaming hub, having attracted many online casinos, more than any other EU country. In fact, the revenues generated by the Malta gambling industry is much higher than those collected in every other EU country are. Therefore, it would only be natural that bitcoin gambling would also be so prevalent in Malta, and the country is dealing with it in a unique way.

How the Malta gaming regulator will tackle the problem

Instead of criminalizing bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies like most gambling regulators do, the Malta Gaming Authority (GMA) is doing the opposite. The regulator is responsible for monitoring both online and brick-and-mortar casinos. A white paper published by the gaming regulator shows that they have requested a technical study on the use of cryptocurrencies in gambling. The MGA’s chairperson, Joseph Cuschieri, stated that they are keen to look at the potential of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – to analyse all that its use involves.

While it is true that bitcoin has the potential for misuse in money laundering and other nefarious purposes, the GMA believes they can actually control most of the illegal activities. In a statement by Cuschieri, the Maltese regulator believes that bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies are here to stay, and they can’t be completely ignored. In that spirit, they intend to fully analyse the use of these virtual currencies and to adopt them.

In fact, use of cryptocurrencies is intended to expand its applications beyond online gaming and into other public sectors. Some other countries are also considering using blockchain technology for more uses, and the Maltese government is hoping they will attract blockchain companies. The country wants to become more than Europe’s gaming hub, and to be the hub of technology innovation as well. As the Prime Minister put it when the white paper was revealed, they do not want to copy other countries’ tech advances, but to be the ones others copy.

Is it likely to have bitcoin gambling actualized?

The benefits of blockchain technology are evident, but its applications have always been theoretical. So far, this move by the MGA is still an assessment, an experiment to figure out if it is indeed possible to keep bitcoin’s use legal. The report on this experiment will be released in the fourth quarter of this year, when we shall find out if the Maltese government will finally legalize bitcoin gambling.

What we do know is that there are other gambling regulators that have made it work, such as the UK Gambling Commission and the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission. These latter regulators legalized bitcoin as a cash equivalent for gambling last year with great success, and the MGA is likely to do the same. For now, we have to just wait and hope that bitcoin gambling keeps growing.