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Bitcoin iGaming Addressed by Isle of Man Regulator

Posted on by Phil Duncan

Isle of Man Gambling Supervision CommissionThe acceptance of Bitcoin in the realm of online gambling may take a step forward if a change proposed by Isle of Man regulators is approved.

The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC), which counts PokerStars and Paddypower among its dozens of licensees, has proposed new wording in its regulations that would permit license holders greater ease in accepting deposits in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

The commission recently proposed a half-dozen changes in its regulations for 2016, chief among them is to allow virtual currencies to be accepted as if they were cash. That requires the language of GSC regulations to be modified in a way that may open the door for Bitcoin to gain favor among online poker and gambling site operators and their customers.

Wording of Regulations

As it stands now, GSC rules spell out that, An account may not be opened except by means of a deposit of money – (a) by credit or debit card, or (b) by such other means as may be approved by the Commissioners. GSC Deputy Chief Executive Mark Rutherford would like to amend the regulations to say “the deposit of something which has a value in money or money’s worth.

The proposal has apparently not been put forward at the behest of any Isle of Man licensees, but rather is a proactive position taken by the GSC in recognition of the possible growth of virtual currencies in Internet gambling. Rutherford told CoinDesk that if the commercial climate in the future becomes less challenging for block-chain based payment channels, it won’t be our law that prevents their adoption.

The proposal is part of a 2016 Gambling Regulations Package addressed and sent to GSC online gambling stakeholders late last month. A four-week consultation period is currently underway in which suggestions or comments on the proposal will be accepted. That period is set to expire on May 20, 2016. Those wishing to address the proposal should send their comments to Mark.Rutherford@gov.im.

Bitcoin’s Role in iGaming

Bitcoin has been slowly gaining acceptance in the world of online gambling, but perhaps not to the degree that many had hoped. The virtual currency was originally touted as the answer to the problem of U.S. gamblers being unable to make deposits in an unregulated igaming environment.

However, Bitcoin remains misunderstood by many, including the recreational online poker and casino players that site operators so desperately attempt to attract. The majority of gamblers who do currently deposit and withdraw via Bitcoin are seen as tech-savvy, and at least with regard to poker, are likely above the skill level of the average player.

If other gaming regulators follow the lead as proposed by the GSC, it may result in more players becoming cognizant and knowledgeable regarding the benefits of virtual currencies, in igaming and perhaps beyond.

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