The UK Gambling Commission will be stepping up its efforts to regulate online gambling, as it issued a warning to bitcoin gaming operators to get the necessary licenses or face penalties. The commission stressed that regulations require gambling websites that offer services in the UK to have a license regardless of the currency it uses.
“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.”
Bitcoin Gaming Regulation
In the US, bitcoin gaming websites have been shut down for not having regulatory approval, not simply because these are using cryptocurrency. While the UK government previously suggested that bitcoin companies be exempt from regulation since the cryptocurrency is not legal tender, tax authorities disagreed and noted that bitcoin should be classified as “single purpose vouchers,” which makes transactions liable for sales tax.
Earlier this year, the UK government confirmed that they would increase oversight on bitcoin operations after the cryptocurrency was discovered to be the main form of exchange in money laundering other illegal dealings.
“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,” added Williams.
The UK Gambling Commission has conducted a review in 2014 and concluded that operators could be doing more to minimize the risk of problem gambling, including bitcoin gaming. Their updated set of rules, which came into effect in May this year, required licensed platforms to be more transparent and prepared to give players expert help and assistance at all times.