Screws tightened on Bitcoin online gambling in the UK
Despite being taken under a tighter control in the UK and elsewhere, Bitcoin still retains its potential to serve the needs of the virtual casino industry.
In mid-2015, the regulators in several European states decided the industry of virtual casino gaming needs to be somewhat shaken up, this being the measure to solve certain issues normally going together with gambling like salt and pepper. The proposed regulatory scope comprised licensing problems, tightened age restrictions targeting under-age gamblers, and no less importantly, enhanced transparency of the area, together with toughened advertising policy. The common strategic goal was to eventually create a more secure gaming environment and encourage players to gamble more responsibly, with UK’s stance on bitcoins (BTC) – a popular payment method in the industry – being in the focus of attention.
UKGC, the country’s gambling commission, officially notified domestic virtual casino operators enabling BTC payments on their websites they could no longer swerve from their duties prescribed by UK’s gambling legal acts. Beyond that, to tackle the essentially illegal activities gathering pace in the area (either offering gambling services to customers and/or unlawful advertising, as explained by Jenny Williams, head of UKGC), the authorities made it clear it was from then onward the responsibility of any casino business operating in the British market, irrespectively of the actual jurisdiction they were based in or the type of payment methods they had in their range, to obtain a proper license.
Interestingly, the United Kingdom had long been rather tolerant and even loose towards gambling as such, although the case was actually quite the opposite in many other countries, where the industry had been strictly regulated and restricted for years already. Gambling activities became popular in Britain by mid-1950s, with soldiers and officers who just back from the battlegrounds abroad and overseas known to have contributed greatly to the popularity of the game of bingo. The country’s 1960 Betting and Gaming Act enabled social clubs to launch their own bingo clubs, while the Gaming Act issued some eight years later was meant to softpedal the area and gave rise to what we now call ‘commercial gaming’, with no essential reforms introduced in the field by lawmakers for more than four decades.
In actual fact, there had been no legal changes planned for the issue of Bitcoin regulation in the UK either. Three years after, the government even had intentions to grant a taxation remission for BTC-operating companies and relieve them of the licensing burden, all because Bitcoins were officially not deemed a means of payment. The UK tax office took a stand against this initiative and insisted a purchase tax should indeed be imposed upon all Bitcoin transactions further on. By spring, the country’s government finally decided their colleagues from other European states were actually worth taking cue from, and declared their determination to introduce regulation of BTC exchange platforms so as to prevent them from being potentially used for any unlawful activities, including money-laundering.
The industry of virtual gambling has been enjoying ever-increasing popularity since the very moment Internet became a part of our life about two decades ago. With its range of undeniable advantages over playing games in land-based casino houses, gambling portals are far more convenient and efficient to deal with. Again, online casinos are a great deal easier to launch and maintain for owners, too, since there is no necessity to purchase any facilities and hardware, this being another benefit of Internet gambling resulting in the possibility for businesses to invest surplus funds into the expansion of service range and various promotions for their players.
Nevertheless, the total market share of virtual casino gaming is only about 1/10 of the whole volume, with old-school gambling taking up the rest. This can be partially explained with the interests of traditional casino business owners, seeking to ban or restrict gaming websites, lobbied by decision-makers at the state level. One of such diehard votarists of the abolishment of online gambling is Sheldon Adelson, the American billionaire known to own Las Vegas Sands Corporation, the parent company of several subsidiaries comprising a global entertainment empire which unites a network of brick-and-mortar casino in the US and Asia.
It’s clear to many of us now BTC and altcoins are capable of becoming the monetary solution with the biggest potential in the field of online gambling, as these are mostly meant to be used on the Internet and offer a set of opportunities and benefits you can’t just get with real-money payments, like instantaneous fund transfers and inessential transaction fees. It’s true the cryptocurrency has given many Bitcoin-powered casino portals the power to solicit players from fiat currency gambling websites, and this is actually an ongoing trend. BTC has got almost everything it takes to heighten the interest of the global public to online gambling, and thus become a catalyst for its own further popularization followed by the revolutionary changes in other business areas worldwide.