Italian Senator Links Bitcoin Gambling to Mafia

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Democratic Party Senator, Lucrezia Ricchiuti, from the Lombardia district in Italy, has recently made interesting allegations against Bitcoins, saying that they were linked to mafia operations, thanks to online casinos.

The Italian politician and policy maker said that she was sure that the world’s number one cruptocurrency can be directly linked to the mafia, who she believes to be exploiting the benefits of the online gambling industry for tax evasion purposes.

Similar claims were made in recent months from other European politicians, although not all were tied to online casinos. Only recently, the Dutch authorities cracked down on three Bitcoin traders, one of which was accused of laundering $2.5 million with the help of the cryptocurrency. Same actions were taken in the Czech Republic also, where the government recently launched several investigations into Bitcoin-related crimes.

New Restrictions in the Making?

According to news reports from the country, Ricchuiti believes that Bitcoin gives the Italian mafia a new and legal way of dipping their toes in the online gambling industry. Per the current legislation in Italy, operators can freely open casinos that accept Bitcoins, which gives the mafia a chance to operate with unrestricted anonymity and no control whatsoever, a situation she believes to pose a “systemic risk”

Due to this scenario, she says that the government has to refine its strategies when it comes to online gambling, so that it can prevent the abuse of virtual currencies by the mafia for money laundering purposes. Some of those refinements would involve tightening the barriers for entering the online public gaming system.

According to Ricchuiti, this can be achieved by broadening the scope of rejections both in terms of the requirements for participating in tenders or public procedures, but also with respect to the renewal, issuing, and keeping concessions on public games.

Can You Really Anonymously Commit Crimes with Bitcoins?

Bitcoin has always enjoyed the image of an anonymous vessel for criminal activities in the public’s mind thanks to Silk Road” and the notoriety countless ransomware attacks helped create. But can we really say that it’s anonymous in today’s day and age?

One answer, among the many recent ones, came in July from Brussels, Belgium, where the authorities apprehended a dark net drug trafficking group with a (completely unrelated) name of Italian Mafia Brussels. According to the news report, the group was targeted for selling ecstasy and MDMA over the deep web since 2014, when the police accidentally discovered their activities.

But while the entire case is interesting to note, the real question remains how exactly was a deep web crime ring uncovered and arrested, when their funding (Bitcoin) was supposed to be untraceable? This is only one of the many instances where Bitcoin anonymity has been questioned, which makes tightening regulations on this sole assumption a cause of concern for any Bitcoin supporter.

February 1, 2017: • No Comments

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