The UK gambling industry has seen some big changes in the last few years as governments clamp down on the sector. Pressure from social groups and ministers has seen the UK Gambling Commission implementing more and more restrictions on operators in a bid to tackle problem gambling. One of the key implementations was an inability to use credit cards for deposits on the sites, alongside other payment-related restrictions, such as deposit limits and stake sizes.
Non GamStop casinos are now becoming a more popular alternative for UK punters in the wake of the new rules as they seek more freedom in their gaming experience. A new payment source that has emerged in recent years is cryptocurrency.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using cryptocurrencies and how do they work in UKGC and non-UK casinos?
How are Cryptocurrencies Used at Online Casinos?
Cryptocurrencies have been rising in popularity over the last few years and the sector is becoming more mainstream with the meteoric rise of Bitcoin in the last year from a low near $3k in 2020, to over $50k today. With more and more investors seeking to find out how they work, many are now taking out profits from coins, or seeking to cash in small stakes in investments that didn’t work so well, and online casinos are becoming an outlet.
Cryptocurrencies are acquired through specialist exchanges, where users will use similar payment methods as casinos to acquire the coins. The fiat to crypto on-ramp usually consists of debit, credit and bank transfers as the standard for obtaining coins. The buy then gets the equivalent amount of coins relating to its value in pounds or US dollars, for example. Cryptos can then be sent around the blockchain via “addresses,” which is similar to a digital banking transfer. Withdrawals can be made if the user wishes to reverse the process and move it back to fiat currencies and send it to their bank or digital wallet. One benefit of cryptocurrencies is that transactions can be sent anonymously.
For casinos that offer Bitcoin gambling, the opportunity is there to send the coins directly to casino in a deposit and then play the in-house games or bet on sports.
How are Cryptocurrencies Restricted at UK Online Casinos?
In the UK, the Gambling Commission is responsible for approving gaming licenses and they urge consumers to ensure that any facility offering gambling in digital currency has obtained an operating license from them. The UKGC goes onto warn of the risks in digital currencies by reminding customers that digital currencies are not controlled by a central authority, with a risk of volatility, while some have been hacked in the past.
Those casinos that have a license will ultimately be required to adhere to the restrictions and rules imposed by the UKGC, such as the GamStop self-exclusion scheme. Payment options have been limited at UK casinos with credit card deposits being stamped out, which helps stop problem gamblers from acquiring debt, but it also restricts those who want to use separate payment forms for their gaming.
The anonymous payments option is something that cryptocurrency investors are not as bothered about, however, in UK online casinos the use of stringent KYC verification means it is irrelevant.
How are Non GamStop Casinos Handling Cryptocurrencies?
Casinos outside the UK are also starting to embrace cryptocurrencies and some of these can have looser restrictions depending on the jurisdiction. In general, UK punters have been moving to casinos without GamStop as they try to find a less strict playing environment. This is a good option for punters who are in control of their gambling habits, but should bever be used as a tool to get around GamStop.
European online casinos tend to be close to the UK in terms of verification checks, however they may be less strict in how you remove funds. Latin American online casinos have become more popular, and these have looser restrictions on identification requirements. It is important that any UK gambler ensures that these casinos are licensed by a reputable gaming authority or they could lose their crypto deposits with no authority responsible for policing the theft.
Should Cryptocurrency Casino Transactions Be Tracked?
The issue for cryptocurrency now is that it is straddling a line between regulation and decentralization. Authorities like the UKGC are playing a hands-off approach to UK online casinos and digital currency because there is no guidance being passed down to them and they are simply warning investors of the risk.
Gamblers should consider why they bought cryptocurrencies in the first place and whether they should even be gambling with cryptocurrencies. The digital currencies were created as a means to operate out with the current centralized banking system and moving the coins into casinos that require strict KYC checks and verification is maybe defeating the purpose. Of course, it is the case that money laundering should be tackled, but punters have a large amount of payment options to bet at both UKGC and non GamStop casinos.
The rise of cryptocurrencies in the last years has given authorities such as the UK Gambling Commission another headache about how to regulate their usage. The UKGC are applying a hands-off approach to the digital currencies, but they insist that Bitcoin casinos are licensed by them and will fall under the restrictions of that been placed on UK casinos in recent years.
Non GamStop casinos have a less strict approach to the use of cryptocurrencies, but punters should really be asking themselves if they really need the cryptocurrency option. Applications and use cases are popping up to service the boom in coin values, but gambling is maybe not the most urgent use for decentralized money and gamblers may be better sticking to the multiple currently available for deposits, such as debit cards, pre-paid cards and digital wallets.