Is Bitcoin Gambling Legal?

Updated by Giuseppe Faraone verified symbol on September 06, 2022

Bitcoin continues to become more popular by the day as the world's first cryptocurrency. One of the biggest beneficiaries of the crypto coin's growth is the online gambling industry, which is seeing more and more operators accepting alternative currencies like Bitcoin as a payment method for accessing a wide range of gambling opportunities ranging from sports and esports betting to casino gaming.

Given that Bitcoin is still relatively new on the financial scene and that online gambling has itself been subject to shifts in legalities in the various countries around the world, it's common for many to wonder about the legal aspect of Bitcoin gambling.

In this article, we'll take a look at this question directly by comparing the laws as they pertain to Bitcoin gambling in various countries. We'll also condense the situation down to the key facts before looking at what Bitcoin gambling entails and how to get started.

Introduction to btc gambling around the world

Bitcoin Gambling Around The World

Just as the accessibility of the world of online gambling varies from one country to the next, so too does that of Bitcoin gambling. Add to the mix the uncertain present situation regarding Bitcoin in these countries (not to mention its future) and you have a broad spectrum of legalities to navigate.

Here we take a look at the present legal circumstances surrounding Bitcoin and gambling in the various major regions of the world.

UK

Gambling in general within the four nations of the United Kingdom is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which is one of the most respected gambling authorities in the world due to its dedication to player safety. Licensees are required to adhere to a strict set of rules regarding their operation, including carrying out player identity checks and determining the source of funds of players beyond a certain threshold amount.

Regarding Bitcoin, the UK government is keen to become a hub for cryptocurrency operations, with many governmental offices unofficially recognising Bitcoin as a form of currency and the purchase of Bitcoin within the country being 100% legal. However, UK online casinos and sports betting sites are still required to carry out the stipulated security checks on Bitcoin members as above.

USA

The United States presents a spectrum of legal situations regarding online gambling all by itself. Generally speaking, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 prohibits online gambling within the USA. However, there are six states that do allow residents to gamble online via approved licensed operators. These six states are Michigan, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New Jersey. These states offer some of the best online casinos for US players.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, is recognised as a form of currency in the US. The IRS even has rules regarding the taxation of Bitcoin profits from investments, for example. However, it's still unclear whether Bitcoin gambling itself is legal in the US as there are no laws specifically prohibiting or allowing the activity.

Europe

Being the area of the world in which cryptocurrencies saw their rise to fame, it's unsurprising to note that Bitcoin is recognised in almost all European countries.

Regarding online gambling, countries like Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway allow residents to bet online at properly licensed sites. Some of these countries also allow Bitcoin gambling, as long as it is with an EU casino or sports betting operator that holds a special licence.

Malta is seen as the innovative leader when it comes to propelling the cryptocurrency gambling environment, with the small island republic the first to pass such crypto tech-compatible laws as the Innovative Technology Arrangement & Services Act 2018, which create the Virtual Financial Assets Framework (VFAF) and launch the Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA).

Africa

The continent of Africa is another collection of countries in which the legal landscape as it pertains to online gambling and Bitcoin is varied.

In South Africa, gambling at online sites is illegal for anyone with a South African IP address, with the exception of a few online sports bookmakers that hold a special licence from one of the provinces. However, a significant proportion of the population manages to join one of the many available South African online casinos that operate outside of the country.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, is recognised as an alternative currency in the country, with people permitted to buy the crypto coins, albeit with warnings of risk by the South African Reserve Bank. Together, these situations suggest that Bitcoin gambling is not legal within the country, although no specific laws on the matter currently exist.

With the growth of more stable broadband internet services and the development of regulatory frameworks, other African countries including Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Uganda have been successful in creating a thriving online gambling environment for their residents. The Bitcoin scene in these countries is a little more varied, with Nigeria and Tanzania banning cryptocurrency trading, while Ghana and Kenya allow the purchase of crypto coins.

The Central African Republic is an interesting case in that it is the second country to officially adopt Bitcoin as legal tender and due to a lack of regulation, online gambling is also freely accessible in the country.

Asia

Much of Asia has explicit bans on online gambling, with countries such as China, South Korea and Cambodia the most stringent. Laws regarding online gambling in other countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines are such that players often find easy ways to get around the issue. India's online gambling laws vary from state to state, though recent developments mean access to online gambling sites is prohibited at the level of internet service providers in the country. In contrast, Japan is largely unrestricted when it comes to online gambling.

In terms of Bitcoin, China and Nepal have outright banned cryptocurrencies, while most of central and southeast Asia legally permit the use of coins such as Bitcoin, though there are some restrictions in certain locations.

Australia and New Zealand

While the stance of Australia and New Zealand on Bitcoin is clear in that they both accept the cryptocurrency, the online gambling situation is a little less permissive.

In both countries, it is illegal to supply or advertise online gambling to residents of these countries. However, there is nothing explicitly stating that residents are not allowed to gamble at offshore online gambling sites (ie. those located outside of Australia/New Zealand). This opens up the possibility of players in these countries accessing Bitcoin gambling.

Canada

In Canada, online gambling is regulated and permitted to be offered only by those holding an authority-issued licence. That said, many Canadians enjoy the services of the various offshore sites that accept registrations from the country. Check out some of the top online casinos Canada has to offer.

When it comes to Bitcoin, while the coin is generally classed as legal in the country, some banks have banned customers from using their credit/debit cards to buy cryptocurrencies.

Again, this is another situation in which the country's residents may turn to offshore online gambling sites to enjoy Bitcoin betting.

Central and South America

Another region of the world sporting a mixed bag situation regarding online gambling is Central and South America. Some countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile and Colombia offer a regulated environment in which people can enjoy online sports betting and casino gaming, while in Argentina, players must turn to offshore operators for the entertainment and in Brazil, related legislation is so old (1941), there is nothing regarding online gambling whatsoever.

Most countries in the region recognise Bitcoin as an alternative form of currency, though some are more restrictive than others. El Salvador was the first country in the world to officially adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, while on the other end of the scale, Bolivia has implemented an outright ban on unregulated currencies.

Russia

Despite pressure from the Central Bank of Russia to ban all operations regarding cryptocurrencies within the country, Russia announced in early 2022 that the government would support and regulate cryptocurrencies, with Bitcoin currently legally recognised as an alternative form of money.

The legalities of online gambling in Russia are not as permissive, with the country banning the activity in 2006 and further cementing its decision in 2012 with the ruling that internet service providers must block online gambling sites.

Some facts about the bitcoin legalities

Bitcoin Gambling Legalities: Key Facts

As you can see, the situation across the world concerning the legalities of Bitcoin gambling has the potential to be a bit of a mixed bag: Bitcoin is legal in some countries while online gambling is not; in others, Bitcoin is illegal while online gambling is freely available; and in some other countries, neither Bitcoin nor online gambling is legal. So how do you navigate such unsteady terrain?

Here we boil down the situation to some key facts, so you can at least get a better idea of where things stand and what to expect in the near future as the cryptocurrency gambling industry develops.

No Specific Laws

Generally speaking, there are currently no specific laws regarding Bitcoin gambling. That means there aren't any laws or casino licenses explicitly prohibiting the activity, but at the same time, nothing is there to state that it is allowed either. That leaves Bitcoin gambling in a bit of a grey area for the time being, at least until legislators can decide on a direction to take.

Changing Situation

What can we expect when those legislators have had time to think about what direction any legislation should take? Based on the current situation in certain countries and the growing confidence in both Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in general, it's safe to say that we're looking at a changing situation.

There are a few stubborn countries that refuse to accept Bitcoin as a viable alternative currency, which means that the rules regarding online gambling in fiat currencies would not apply, offering something of a loophole for prospective Bitcoin gamblers in these regions.

However, more countries are realising the potential of Bitcoin casinos for the future and are slowly starting to incorporate cryptocurrencies into the mix, which bodes well for a positive Bitcoin gambling environment in the near future.

Expected Resistance

It's fair to say that in those countries where either Bitcoin or online gambling (or both!) is banned or heavily restricted, such as China and the United States, we can expect to see some resistance in the development of online Bitcoin gambling opportunities in these areas.

Identity Checks Still Required

Though Bitcoin offers potential gamblers some significant benefits, including anonymity and faster transaction processing times, they will still most likely be expected to provide proof of identity and source of funds data in line with the current Anti Money Laundering and Know Your Customer protocols at existing online gambling sites.

Licensing Progress

A few respected licensing authorities have started issuing licences to operators that accept cryptocurrency payments, most notably, Curaçao, which suggests they are also regulating the crypto aspect of these sites' operations. It's only a matter of time before other licensing authorities in the industry follow suit.

Find out more about bitcoin gambling

What is Bitcoin Gambling?

Much like gambling with traditional currencies, Bitcoin gambling involves the use of the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, to place bets on the outcomes of various events. This could be anything from sports events such as a football match or horse race to esports competitions such as League of Legends and Call of Duty to best casino games like Blackjack, Roulette, Poker and slots.

There is even a selection of games denoted as provably fair that uses blockchain technology to verify the fairness of every outcome, providing players with a way to confirm that none of these games has been tampered with.

Benefits of Bitcoin Gambling

There are a number of benefits to using Bitcoin for online gambling rather than traditional fiat currencies and payment methods. Here's a look at a few of them:

  • Anonymous: Since no personally identifiable information is revealed at any stage of a Bitcoin transaction, your online gambling activity can remain private and confidential, unlike with other payment methods, such as bank accounts and debit cards, in which details of your transactions are itemised.
  • Secure: Thanks to cryptography and blockchain technology, it's virtually impossible for anyone to interfere with your Bitcoin transactions. Though hacking incidents do occur, they are very rare and almost always a result of cryptocurrency exchange hacks or getting hold of Bitcoin wallet private keys.
  • Low fees: Bitcoin transaction fees for depositing and withdrawing at online Bitcoin casinos are either non-existent or they're so low you won't notice them.
  • Fast: Bitcoin transactions tend to be processed much faster than their fiat money counterparts, usually instantly.
  • Investment potential: Thanks to Bitcoin's well-documented volatility, many savvy punters time their deposits and withdrawals in much the same way a trader would time buys and sales, depositing when the value is low and withdrawing when the value is high.

Steps to start playing the bitcoin casinos

How to Start Playing at Bitcoin Casinos

One of the most popular activities people are using their Bitcoin for is playing online casino games. If this is something that interests you, it's very easy to get started. All that's required is a Bitcoin wallet to store your newly purchased BTC and an account at a reputable Bitcoin online casino.

Get a Bitcoin Wallet

There are many Bitcoin wallets to choose from these days and they can be generally grouped into hot and cold wallets. Hot wallets are similar to other ewallets in that you store your Bitcoins on an online site that's accessible by entering a private key. Cold wallets, on the other hand, are a bit more secure as they are physical devices on which you store your BTC, which means you'd need to physically connect them to a device each time you want to make a deposit or withdrawal.

Whichever option you go for, it's crucial you make a note of your login details: lose these and you will lose access to your Bitcoin as there's no way to retrieve them if you forget!

Buy Bitcoin

Once you've got a Bitcoin wallet, you can then use fiat money to buy Bitcoin via an online exchange. Make sure you transfer your newly bought BTC into your wallet once you've completed your purchase.

Join a Bitcoin Casino

Finding a reputable Bitcoin casino to join is a little trickier, but you can save yourself some time and effort by checking out one of the top Bitcoin casinos we've deemed are worthy of discerning players right here on this site. Rest assured that every one of them has undergone serious scrutiny on multiple levels before being included!

Make a Bitcoin Deposit

Once you've decided which site to join, open an account, visit the cashier and make your first deposit by choosing Bitcoin as your payment method and following the instructions provided. You can also claim the site's casino welcome offer if you want some extra funds to play with. Once you're loaded up, you can pick any of the site's games and start playing.

Withdraw Your Bitcoin Winnings

If you've been lucky enough to trigger a win, your next move should be to make a Bitcoin withdrawal. Visit the cashier, choose the option to withdraw and select Bitcoin as your payment method. You'll need to provide the Bitcoin casino with your wallet address, then once they have approved your withdrawal request, your funds will arrive in your wallet instantly.

Final words on bitcoin gambling

Final Words

The legalities of Bitcoin gambling are in a bit of a grey area right now due to the changing nature of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. As an alternative form of currency, they are still very new on the scene and no one really knows what the future holds for them as they represent a significant shift in the world of money and finance as we currently know it.

However, it seems that the world of blockchain technology is here to stay at the very least, which means that cryptocurrencies probably will be too and with Bitcoin currently the leader of the pack by a mile, we will most likely continue to see a rise in the number of online gambling sites offering BTC as a payment method.

Whether or not legislators around the world will be amenable to such forward momentum remains to be seen, but where there is demand, there will inevitably be supply, in some form or another, with the current Bitcoin and online gambling situations around the world suggesting that legislation regulating the two combined will no doubt emerge in the coming months and years.

FAQs

Is Bitcoin gambling legal?

Generally speaking, there is currently no legislation that either prohibits or allows Bitcoin gambling, though the legality of Bitcoin gambling can be inferred from the current situation in your country, ie. if Bitcoin and/or online gambling is currently illegal where you live, chances are Bitcoin gambling will be too.

Which Bitcoin casinos are the safest?

It's really important to join a reputable Bitcoin casino so you can play in confidence that your details and funds will be safe. Check out the best Bitcoin casino sites in 2022 for a good place to start.

How do you play casino games with Bitcoin?

Playing casino games with Bitcoin is much the same as playing them with traditional currencies. Simply buy some BTC via an exchange, create a Bitcoin wallet account to keep them in, make a deposit with that wallet to a trustworthy Bitcoin casino, and then start playing!

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Giuseppe Faraone
Giuseppe Faraone verified symbol Author
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Based in Valencia, Spain, Giuseppe gave up Milan for sunny shores. New licenses, new casinos, new bonuses, new games - there's always something to write about. Being so close to the action in the gambling industry, he's on top of any new developments the minute they come through the door. Aiming to deliver updates and comprehensive information to you, he does his best to thoroughly test out and rate what he reviews.
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Reviewed by Julia Attard, Senior Author