British authorities allow Bitcoin as payment for online gambling

With effect from October, Bitcoin and other virtual currencies will be acceptable as a method of payment for gambling sites in the UK


Britain is a nation of many dichotomies, one of which is that it is a highly sophisticated nation with the world’s most respected business ethic, and is home to the largest financial center in the world which is a tour de force in terms of its technologically advanced interbank trading environment that powers the entire world’s markets, plate glass regulatory structure and the most well regarded non-bank institutional electronic trading businesses in the world.

All of the top quality industry that makes Britain one of the world’s largest producers, and a leading edge commercial center that is in many respects the envy of the world.

….and yet gambling is legal. Not only is it legal, but it is part of British culture. Venture just one mile outside of the sharp-suited, highly polished, towering establishments of the City and Canary Wharf, and every high street in the land is adorned with betting shops, many of which are fully licensed by the Gambling Commission and are owned by large conglomerates such as William Hill, Betfred and Ladbrokes.

Today, the Gambling Commission has opened up the possibilities for those who participate in online gambling in Britain, again a perfectly legal activity in the United Kingdom, by allowing Bitcoin and other virtual currencies to be used as a method of payment to online gambling sites.

The Gambling Commission did not make any public announcement to this effect, however the regulator updated its website to state that at the end of October this year, gambling sites will be able to accept virtual currency as a method of payment.

The Gambling Commission terms Bitcoin and virtual currencies as ‘cash equivalents’ and places the onus on gambling sites in that they will be responsible for ensuring that the “appropriate policies and procedures” are put in place to ensure that customers using anonymous payment methods via currencies that are not backed or issued by a central bank are not doing so for fraudulent purposes.

Although many proponents of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies had high hopes for peer to peer currencies a few years ago, and some FX brokerages actually allowing Bitcoin trading (BTCUSD) on their platforms, it has come to pass that Bitcoin and other virtual currencies have not become widely accepted as a financial markets asset class.

Instead, the virtual currencies have found two specific categories of interest, those being the technological advantages of blockchain which has been widely adopted by banks, management consultancies and the subject of vast venture capital investment due to its potential to automate global banking procedures, whilst Bitcoin itself has remained the preserve of fringe society, its usefulness limited to anonymous payments or circumvention of capital controls in nations with despotic governments or high levels of fiat currency inflation.

Risk has remained high, and no recourse is available should customers lose their Bitcoins due to security breaches affecting secure wallets or the demise of an exchange, thus it is likely that it will go hand in hand with online gambling and will never be regarded as a bona fide method of payment or tradable currency pair in the mainstream markets.

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