The Commission’s CEO says Bitcoin and altcoins are one of the continuing future focus areas for the regulator.
Last week, the Gambling Commission of the United Kingdom included virtual currencies to their register of payment options that can be offered by online licensees to their customers. In their updated document called License Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) which UKGC released some time before after having several rounds of negotiations with licensees themselves, as well as other stakeholders of the area, the new requirements are scheduled to come into force on the last day of October 2016.
As can be readily appreciated, one of the LCCP sections handles crypto-currencies in the form of “cash and cash equivalents, payment methods and services”, stating that gambling licensees are obliged to “implement appropriate policies and procedures” when it comes to “the usage of cash and cash equivalents, e.g. […] digital currencies, by customers”. This needs to be done so as to minimize the risk of white-washing activities and promote “licensing objectives” by conducting Bitcoin gambling activities in an appropriate manner. Apart from it, licensees were allocated the duty to consider “any applicable learning or guidelines” whenever such are issued by the Gambling Commission.
As quoted in UKGC’s annual report issued in July, the Commission’s chief executive Sarah Harrison underlined the importance of virtual currencies like Bitcoin for the entire industry, stating they were one of the “continuing future focus” areas for the regulator. Harrison, however, didn’t go into further details on that. Still, the very fact a state level establishment like the Gambling Commission speaks positively about the eventual recognition of Bitcoin payments could promote such advanced payment alternatives among wider public. So far, Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies have only been approved for use by licensees of the Curacao gambling authority, with the possibility for similar steps to be taken in the Isle of Man, after the Crown dependency’s Gambling Supervision Commission proposed enabling its online licensees to accept gaming deposits in what they call “convertible virtual currencies” earlier this year. Further, the Malta Gaming Authority is also reported to have set things in motion in terms of legalizing crypto-payments for licensees.
As a matter of fact, gambling operators offering BTC payments to their players are still obliged to obtain an operating license – at least that is what the UKGC wants them to do, despite the latter implied further adjustments could be made to the existing policy, with the actual type currency likely to become “almost irrelevant” on the condition operators are capable of “protecting” their customers and making their business crime-free.