Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency has officially been licensed as a currency payment by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and will become available to UKGC licensees for the first time in October.
The new rule will only apply to online casinos and other gambling operators who serve the UK market. According to the commission’s report in June 2016, 719 online casino licenses were held by 427 online casino operators as of September 2015.
The UKGC’s annual report quoted CEO Sarah Harrison who stated that digital currencies were among the UK Gambling Commission’s areas of “continuing future focus.” This move by the regulator could encourage public acceptance of cryptocurrencies and other alternative currencies.
Presently, only Curacao has allowed online gambling licensees the freedom to accept Bitcoin as payment. That being said, the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority are both reportedly considering permitting this payment as well.
As for the UKGC, the new conditions are treated in Section 5.1 of the License Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) codes that address “cash and cash equivalents, payment methods and services.” The specific clause which concerns the cryptocurrency and other payments states that licensees must “implement appropriate policies and procedures concerning the usage of cash and cash equivalents.” Cash equivalents include cheques, bankers drafts, debit cards and digital currencies like Bitcoin.
The recently updated LCCP that permits the use of Bitcoin by UKGC licensees comes into effect on October 31, 2016. Bitcoin gambling operators who wish to enter the UK market will still require a UK license.