Are There Restrictions on Bitcoin Poker?
Online gambling is a touchy subject in many countries around the world. As such, the legality of conventional online gambling is an equally contentious issue. Many countries are liberalizing their online gaming regulations and moving towards greater acceptance of online gambling activities such as online casino, online bingo and online poker. However, online gambling largely falls into a gray area. In any event, all countries have taken a position on online gambling (opposed to it, accepting of it, or have no opinion as yet). The restrictions on Bitcoin Poker are country specific. Let us take a moment to explore the legal frameworks in certain countries around the world and how this impacts upon online poker and Bitcoin.
Australia – the Interactive Gambling Act, known as the IGA, was imposed in Australia in 2001. This gambling act states that it is illegal to provide online gambling to people in Australia. The act targets Australian online gaming companies and overseas-based online gaming companies providing gambling to Australians. However, online sports betting is legal for residents of Australia. The flipside of the coin is that Australians are fully entitled to gamble online – wherever they choose. For this reason, Bitcoin Poker is becoming an increasingly popular option in the land down under.
China – the government of China expressly forbids all forms of gambling in the country with the exception of the national lottery. At the time of writing, there were no online lottery services in China owing to the pervasive amount of fraudulent and scam-based sites. China features an administrative area known as Macau which allows gambling activity. Therefore, in China it will be difficult, if not impossible for residents to gamble online.
India – the Bombay Wager act effectively banned all forms of online gambling activity in the state of Maharashtra. But, Bitcoin Poker and other forms of online gambling also fall into a gray area and this means that it is entirely within the purview of the player to decide whether to play or not.
Israel – Many online poker pros come from Israel. However according to Israeli penal law 5737 – 1977, online gambling and traditional gambling are illegal. There are however several gambling-style activities that Israelis are permitted to enjoy including the Israeli Commission for Sports Gambling and the Israel Lottery.
Russia – Online gambling and Bitcoin Poker fall into a gray area in Russia. Despite the fact that Russia expressly forbids online gambling and has limited land-based gaming to several key areas throughout the country, several companies provide online poker to Russians.
Turkey – all forms of gambling – online and land-based – are illegal in Turkey. No companies are allowed to offer their gambling services to Turkey, however Bitcoin Poker falls into a gray area and several companies are starting to target Turkey with this skill-based game.
United States – US gambling and online gambling law is complex. The UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) proscribes the transfer of funds between banks and online gambling sites. Further, credit card companies are not allowed to process transactions to online gambling sites, including online poker sites. However, Bitcoin Poker is unique in that it is not processed by a bank or a financial company. This cryptocurrency is decentralised and does not fall under the control of any bank, financial institution or government.
For this reason, Bitcoin Poker enjoys a unique gray area status at this juncture. The authorities are in the midst of drafting legislation to regulate digital currencies. Many states are now pushing for the liberalization of online gambling activity. Already, 3 US states allow some form of online gambling including Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada. Bitcoin Poker has emerged as a hot favorite throughout the United States since it does not jeopardize players or banks and allows real-money online poker play.
Bitcoin Poker is a Skill-Based Card Game that Does Not Use Actual Currency
One should not take the issue lightly however. Chances are that the authorities are expressly focused on online poker rooms, online casinos and online bingo rooms attempting to use different forms of currency (Fiat currency and Bitcoin). Players do not need to fear in any jurisdiction since it is the operators that bear the risk. Since Bitcoin Poker does not make use of credit cards, debit cards, e-wallets or online money transfers (it is not actually an accepted currency) the argument can be made that the laws that were written do not apply to Bitcoin Poker. Further, poker is not exactly a chance-based game since there is a definite skill element involved. This evokes further debate in that it does not use actual fiat currency and it is a skill-based card game. This is one of the many reasons why Bitcoin Poker rooms and players around the world are pushing hard for the democratization of online poker and specifically Bitcoin Poker.
What is the Word on the Street about the Legality of Bitcoin Poker?
Researchers who are interested in digital currencies have definite opinions on the legality of Bitcoin Poker. Since there is no actual Bitcoin headquarters or satellite office, or physical address, it’s impossible for regulators to seize the assets of Bitcoin. The gray area within which digital currencies operate makes it a little difficult for authorities to understand how to classify it. Some consider it as a financial instrument, while others consider it as money. In any event, it has a definite market value and Bitcoin Poker rooms are facilitating the use of this digital currency for financial gain. In the US, the government through the Department of Justice would much like to regulate all forms of digital currency. But playing with Bitcoin is not in effect breaking any law since there is no money transfer taking place. It is when you cash out the Bitcoin winnings that issues may arise. However, the anonymity inherent in this digital currency adds another layer of protection for players. This short and sweet answer to the question about Bitcoin Poker legality is this: it definitely falls into a gray area.
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