Russian Gamblers Might Face Less Scrutiny as Government Mulls over Bitcoin Legalization

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Online casino players in Russia might have less worries on their mind by the end of 2018, as the government considers taking a radically different approach to the use of Bitcoins in the country than the one from last year, when the Ministry of Finance was even threatening to impose prison sentences on any individual caught using virtual currencies like Bitcoin.

According to local news sources citing the Deputy Minister of Finance, Alexet Moiseev, the ministry is now having a change of heart in order to fight the problem of money laundering more effectively. If the law takes form by next year, Russian gamblers who have to rely on Bitcoin casinos for their online gambling needs might end up having less to fear.

Bitcoin Casinos and Russia

Despite gambling being present for centuries in Russia before the new Russian Federation emerged, online casinos have been banned for over a decade while their websites have been heavily restricted by the government who enforce IP blockades and keep a black list of illegal domains prohibited by the Federation.

As you might already be familiar with, the current Russian government under Vladimir Putin has always been heavily oriented towards traditional values and religion, which eventually lead the parliament to pass a law in 2006 that banned online gambling in casinos, sportsbooks, and even mobile casinos, leaving any locals or visitors in Russia to resort to other means when they want to gamble online, like VPN tools or digital currencies.

Yet, the number of casinos accepting Russian players and offering Russian language support hasn’t decreased. Now, one could say that the wide choice of online casinos supporting Russian players are targeting natives living outside of the federation, but just like in the US, it’s unlikely that this is the only case when Russian players are able to enjoy online casinos.

Just like in any territory where online gambling is sanctioned, using Bitcoin to keep your transactions under the radar becomes one of the most viable solutions to avoid punishment. Thus, if the government drops the idea of punishing Bitcoin users and liberates the cryptocurrency, gamblers in the Federation could have an easier way of exchanging Bitcoins back to cash and using them for other means.

What the New Law Proposes

According to Bloomberg, the government is now considering to recognize the use of Bitcoin as a legal payment instrument in order to put a stop to illegal money transfers and money laundering. The legalization procedure will be a joint effort between the Russian government and the central bank and it is expected to bring more transparency to the process of buying/selling Bitcoins.

Speaking about the new proposal, Moiseev told the media that the government needs to clearly know who is on either side of the financial transaction at all times, while people who initiate transactions should be able to know to whom they are selling and who is the person selling to them. A similar stance was already taken in China, where the country’s largest exchanges are currently integrating new Know-Your-Customer and Anti-Money-Laundering systems.

However, how exactly and in what form will Bitcoin transactions become more transparent and legalized in the country, remains to be seen. For now there are talks of tracking the cryptocurrency, which could pose additional difficulties to gamblers, although nothing is officially confirmed.

April 12, 2017: • No Comments

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