The question on whether Bitcoin is money or not has immense implications – with respect to anti-money laundering regulations, taxation, legal arguments, etc. The UK Gambling Commission has just made its views on this issue clear.
UK Gambling Commission
The UK Gambling Commission is an independent body, sponsored by the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sports. It was set up under the Gambling Act (2005) to regulate gambling in Great Britain. It regulates a wide variety of gambling activities including lotteries, casinos, arcades, bingo, betting, etc.
Views on Digital Currencies
In the licence conditions issued by the Commission in July 2016, the Commission mentions that licensees should have appropriate policies and procedures concerning the use of cash and cash equivalents. Crucially, the definition of cash equivalents includes bankers drafts, cheques, debit cards and digital currencies like Bitcoin. Licensees must have controls in place to minimize the risk of crimes such asmoney laundering.
New Licence Conditions Effective from October 2016
The new licence conditions are effective from 31st October 2016. A 3 month period has been given for gambling operators to familiarize themselves with the changes made and to ensure compliance. Licence holders are expected to keep themselves informed about developments in gambling legislation, Gambling Commission guidance and codes of practice.
The Gambling Commission has wide powers of enforcement, including imposing additional conditions to a licence, revoking a licence and imposing financial penalties.
Other Countries could Follow UK's lead
While the changes made by the UK Gambling Commission may not lead to an immediate increase in Bitcoin gambling, it establishes a precedent. Countries across the world may have a lead to follow when they look at regulating Bitcoin in the gambling sector. A UK gambling-operator licence may also help gambling companies differentiate themselves from their competition, given that the UK has an established, mature gambling industry.