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UK Gambling Commission Declares Bitcoin a Cash Equivalent

In a recent amendment of gambling regulations in the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has made an announcement that people in the country will be able to use their Bitcoins for gaming and gambling purposes. The regulation also mentioned that the use of Bitcoins as a cash alternative will only be supported by the UKGC, when it is used on sites that are properly licenced for operation in the UK.

The UKGC made an alteration to the License Condition 5.1.1 section of the “License Conditions and Codes of Practice;” the change ensures that the digital currency is added to the list of cash equivalents that can be accepted by gaming operators. While this sounds a little quirky, other conventional cash equivalents, according to the document, include banker’s drafts, cheques, debit and credit cards; while some of these alternatives are already accepted by online gambling sites, the UKGC has mentioned that the rest of these changes are expected to come into effect later this year, by the 31st of October 2016.

The change that the UKGC has brought about to the online gambling licensing requirements with the introduction of Bitcoin as a cash alternative, would mean a lot not just to the digital currency network but also to players who frequent online casino sites on a regular basis. Bitcoin is a popular currency in the digital world and can offer many advantages compared to traditional currencies that are currently being used by players. Unlike traditional currency, the digital currencies can be transferred both from the account of the player and that of the site with greater ease; this would allow players to make instant deposits; the money would then be in the intended account in a matter of moments and therefore, can be used as wagers immediately. The platform also makes the withdrawals from online casino sites faster, making it easier for both the player and the operator; this is what makes Bitcoins ideal for online gaming and gambling scene. This will serve as an incentive for customers in the UK, who take part in online gambling, and in turn, encourage them to spend more on these sites, boosting the country’s gambling industry.

According to the new UKGC regulations, players using Bitcoins will only be eligible for protection when using sites that are listed and ones that have been approved by the gaming commission. Up until now, most of the online casinos platform that have allowed players to use their Bitcoins as wagers, were licensed in Curacao; this meant that players who had been using Bitcoins for their gaming ventures were deprived of any protection from the authorities, as the Dutch Caribbean island country’s gaming commission and regulatory bodies did not offer any form of consumer protection for their players.

The Bitcoin, which was invented in late 2008 and released into the open market at the start of 2009 has since then established itself as a useful financial tool. The change in law by the UKGC to include Bitcoin as an alternative to cash or a cash equivalent will also serve as an acknowledgment to that status the currency has built for itself. While the new UKGC rules will only apply to the online casino platforms serving the UK market to begin with, it may encourage both new and existing businesses to seek and obtain licenses to allow the use of Bitcoins for accepting wagers from players and paying out money to winners on the sites. Since the beginning of June 2016, the UKGC has issued more than 719 online casino licenses in the country to more than 427 online casino operators. With this new rule, the UKGC may soon begin receiving license applications from online casino companies that only use Bitcoins as a mode of payment; such casinos are currently licensed in Curacao, but with the customer protection initiatives in place in the UK, they can soon start to migrate towards the United Kingdom, offering those companies an opportunity to expand out of that island country to a bigger one. The fiscal aspect of both the UK Gambling industry and therefore, in turn, the entire country could benefit from this little change in law by the UKGC. However, the UK may soon face fresh competition for these Bitcoin-only casinos as some of the other territories, includes the Republic of Malta and Isle of Man, have started pursuing the issue from the same angle and given their relation to the global gambling industry this could prove to be big competition.

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