The United Kingdom has recently become the first major jurisdiction to permit their licensees to accept bitcoin and other digital currencies. A clause was updated within the License Conditions and Codes of Practice that states that all licensees must implement appropriate policies and procedures concerning the usage of cash and cash equivalents such as banker’s drafts, cheques, debit cards and digital currencies. The intention of this move is to minimise the chances of crimes such as money laundering and avoid the giving of illicit credit to customers.
At this point the term ‘digital currencies’ is deliberately loose in order to accommodate for future Bitcoin alternatives. Digital currency should make it easier for players who enjoy online casino games, particularly when you consider that they attract players from all over the world and it would take currency conversion out of the equation.
Curacao is currently the other jurisdiction to make this change, the regulation guidelines for the tiny Caribbean island is considered to be quite relaxed. Meanwhile, the Isle of Man Treasury and their Gambling Supervision Committee approved similar amendments to be made to their gambling laws in May and they currently await the approval from the island’s government. On the other side of the coin, the Malta Gaming Authority have made it very clear that they do not accept crypto-currencies, such as Bitcoin and will continue to refuse them for the foreseeable future.
UK laws are fully independent but are closely aligned with other jurisdictions, such as Gibraltar who are fully expected to follow suit. Following the outcome of the European Referendum in June, new Prime Minister Theresa May has stated that “Brexit means Brexit,” but she hasn’t yet triggered Article 50. Therefore, at least for the time being, the UK remains a member state of the Union where they have usually been a leader in informing EU policy on gambling.
The UK market is very mature and one of the biggest in Europe, so by taking a big step like giving the green light to digital currencies they could increase the acceptance and understanding of digital currencies throughout the wider continent. The only dependent variable now is whether online gambling brands also embrace Bitcoin as an official payment method in the near future, although there doesn’t seem to be any reason why they wouldn’t.