We have to face it: even with the last year’s extensive press coverage, cryptocurrencies still have a bad reputation. There are still many out there who have a hard time forgetting the role Bitcoin played in so many transactions completed on the dark web involving heavily regulated or banned items and content. Thus, Bitcoin gambling was seen as something shady by many for years and years – considering especially that, unlike traditional gambling outlets, Bitcoin casinos didn’t need a license to operate (since Bitcoin was not considered to be “real money”). But things may change in the near future, thanks in part to Malta’s cryptocurrency regulations. Malta is Europe’s gambling hub, with many online gambling outlets from casinos to betting outlets and poker rooms operating businesses under the governing force of the MGA (Malta Gaming Authority).
Last December, the Malta Gaming Authority has called for companies to express their interest in Distributed Ledger Technology and cryptocurrency projects, the prestigious industry publication iGamingBusiness writes. In a statement published on its website, the MGA has expressed its openness to consider allowing Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and cryptocurrency-based operators to apply for its licenses. The MGA has even issued a consultation document on the use of DLT and the acceptance of virtual currencies through the implementation of a Sandbox Environment. Its focus is protecting customers, handle preventing crime and money laundering, and at the same time, protecting the Malta jurisdiction’s reputation while embracing what they call a “disruptive phenomenon in the digital currency and technology area”.
Bitcoin gambling is a phenomenon that has emerged shortly after the introduction of the digital currency, with several operators offering such services online. And it grew exponentially – according to numbers published one year ago on Bitcoin.com, gamblers have wagered over $4.5 billion worth of cryptocurrency (3.7 million BTC last April) since 2014, with over 24 million bets recorded by Bitcoin casino review website Bitcoin Strip. While this amount is minuscule compared to the “proper” online gambling business (a close to $46 billion business in 2016), it is a big enough market segment to be worthy of the attention of regulators. And it is expected to grow – along with the regulated online gambling business – in the years to come.
Malta’s cryptocurrency regulations will likely bring at least part of the Bitcoin gambling business to light. After all, a license issued by a prestigious jurisdiction’s regulator – like the MGA – is known to offer an online gaming operator an increased level of customer trust, and this is what most Bitcoin casinos lack the most.