When Bitcoin first emerged as a digital currency in 2009, few people knew little, or nothing, about it. Even as it has become more popular in recent years, most people still have questions, many of which are in regards to the legalities of Bitcoin, especially when it comes to gambling, in the USA.
Is Bitcoin Legal?
Sometimes with our current media outlets, it’s hard to even know all the rules and regulations surrounding the cryptocurrencies themselves. The short answer to this question is yes, Bitcoin is legally recognized tender in the United States, however, it is illegal to use Bitcoin to purchase black market goods such as drugs or illegal weapons. Your account could be shut down simply from purchasing legal goods from websites that are known to have illegal goods for sale as well. And a cryptocurrency investor must pay taxes on any Bitcoin gains they make.
The Legalities of Online Gambling
First let’s start by looking at the legalities of online gambling in the United States as a whole. And it isn’t as cut and dry as one would hope.
The laws about online gambling not only vary by state, then also by the type of gambling. In a state such as Nevada, online poker and sports betting are allowed, however a full online casino is not—except for in the case of a sweepstakes. This might be surprising for those who know Las Vegas as the gambling capital of the US. On the opposite end of the spectrum, and of the continental United States, you have New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, where online gambling is indeed legal and there are many popular casinos with these online options, which offer full services for players. Casinos such as the MGM Grand, Golden Nugget, and the Tropicana all have online websites available to players in New Jersey. These casinos report huge profits; after all, people in this decade love any service that allows them not to leave the comfort of their own home. (Just look at the success of companies like Post Mates and Uber Eats). There are a few other states that have only legalized online sports betting, and they are; Oregon, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Indiana. The rest of the states in the US prohibit all forms of online gambling.
What Does This Mean?
Current regulations in the Unites States do not specifically say that Bitcoin Gambling is illegal. This means that while Bitcoin casinos are not necessarily prohibited, they aren’t in the clear either. Some states classify all gambling as illegal, and thus using Bitcoin to purchase buy-ins would be using Bitcoin for an illegal purpose, which as stated above, is prohibited. The state governments of the states that have legal online gambling make millions of dollars from their legalized online casinos. In fact, the New Jersey government alone profited 1.4 billion dollars last year just from online gambling. So when a website chooses to offer Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as a betting option, the United States still wants their cut. And this can be very complicated depending on the website. There are also many age restrictions when it comes to gambling in the United States.
Many online Bitcoin casinos, such as MintDice, simply prohibit US players rather than deal with all this red tape. If for some reason, you find one that doesn’t, it is imperative that you check the regulations both in your state and on the website itself. Make sure you check to see if the website is reporting your winnings or if you need to do so yourself. This will keep you from being charged with tax evasion.
If you don’t live in the United States, this doesn’t mean you are in the clear either. Many countries ban cryptocurrencies in their entirety such as Bolivia and Pakistan, and some countries are on the fence such as China and Russia. Either way, before you choose to participate in online Bitcoin gambling website, make sure you are abiding by all your local laws and regulations. In some countries, it is completely legal, and if this is the case for you, then congrats! You get to enjoy some of the best casinos on the Internet!
The Benefits of Gambling with Crypto
Wondering why all this matters? It’s because Bitcoin gambling makes gambling online easier than ever before. Under current regulations, to gamble online in one of the legalized states, you must either deposit money from a bank account or debit card and then register with your government ID card with the casino. Some websites, such as WSOP, only allow cash outs in person and only at certain locations in certain cities. Bitcoin bypasses all of these things. If you already have some on hand, you simply send it to the website wallet, and depending on the speed of the website, your money is credited to your account within hours (or less!). The same goes for cashing out, there is no driving anywhere, you simply request a withdrawal to go back to your Bitcoin wallet address sounds easy right? Bitcoin also allows for full anonymity, for those players who prefer to stay private while gambling with their money. Most websites do this by allowing you to choose a username or they can assign one for you at random if you simply cannot choose.
This article is current as of December 6th, 2019, however, laws, and governments, are always changing. It is very important, once again, to always check your local laws in your area before you decide to invest or gamble in an online casino. And if you do decide to proceed, make sure you give your local government their cut. For further information on the legalities pertaining to places that are not the United States, check out this Wikipedia page which delves into the exact laws of each country of the world. And remember, always gamble responsibly!