Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Why US-based people can’t bet with bitcoins at online casinos

Online gambling using bitcoin has been happening since the time when cryptocurrency came into being. In the initial days, gamblers used to opt for well-known portals like just-dice.com, SealswithClubs and Satoshidice that used to witness millions of dollars’ worth of bitcoin bets.

In fact, Erik Voorhees sold his stake in Satoshidice for a whopping sum of 126,315 BTC, six years ago, which at that time was equal to $ 11.5 million (Here’s more on him). Today, despite the fact that there are many online gaming portals that accept bitcoin, majority of the US residents cannot play on these platforms using bitcoin.

While on one hand US gamblers aren’t allowed to bet with bitcoins because of the perceived dangers surrounding cryptocurrencies and online gambling per se, a large section of the US lawmakers also consider bitcoin as a big evil that has led to many problems. In fact a study done in this regard has likened crypto-trading to gambling. You can read more on that story by clicking on the link.

The reason why US citizens can’t gamble online with bitcoins, as well as real money

It’s important to understand that whenever a person visits an online casino, the server of the website can tell about their location from the IP address. For instance, whenever someone sitting in the US visits a bitcoin-only or bitcoin accepting casino portal, they will be greeted with a message that visitors from the US cannot play any online casino games with real money. The best they can do is perhaps play with test tokens, for some basic enjoyment. The message usually reads like this:

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“Our servers have detected that you are trying to play from inside the USA. Unfortunately strangers living in Washington D.C. think that they have the right to tell you what you can and can’t do with your own money on the internet. Because they would likely hurt us if we were to allow you to play on our provably fair site, we’ve had to disable deposits for USA players. Thanks to All the Patriotic Acts GW Bush Pushed Through, Law Enforcement Can Criminalize Anyone Offering Online Gambling Services to US Citizens”

It might seem odd that the country that is supposed to be at the forefront of promoting free will, places such restrictions on its citizens, telling them what they can and cannot do with their money on the Internet. At present, there are only four US states that permit online poker: Native American reservations, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.

The primary reason behind the US citizens’ inability to gamble on the Internet, with or without bitcoin, is because of a certain act known as UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) of 2006. It was passed when the Congress and became a law under the Presidentship of George W Bush. Although this law doesn’t prosecute any individual Americans for gambling online, it targets the offshore gambling operators and foreign companies. As per this law, US law enforcement agencies are given all the power and resources to criminalise anyone who offers online gambling services to the US residents.

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