US Bitcoin Casino Players might face New Scrutiny after New Homeland Investigation

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A new bill proposed by congressional representative Kathleen Rice will see the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) taking a closer look at Bitcoin and its use for funding terrorism, news reports suggest. The bill would see the DHS cooperate with other federal bodies to conduct a threat assessment on virtual currencies, including Bitcoin, and their use by terrorist groups.

The call for assessment comes in the aftermath of the global WannaCry ransomware attack which infected around 200,000 machines worldwide running Microsoft Windows, including public hospitals. The assessment is to be completed within 120 days of the passing of the Act, which was approved last Thursday, and it might see the US take a different stance on the use of Bitcoins if enough evidence is acquired.

Bitcoin under Scrutiny, Despite Little Evidence

Linking Bitcoin to terrorist attacks has been done by the European Union as well, after last year’s Paris attacks prompted officials to crack down on the cryptocurrency, prompting criticism from the tech community. The new US Bill is facing similar criticism, as there hasn’t been enough evidence to add legitimacy to the claim, with a  spokesperson from Rice’s office even admitting that there have been a “few instances” where terrorists used Bitcoins while the practice was not “widespread”.

In an official e-mail statement from Coleman Lamb, Rice’s spokesperson, it was explained that virtual currencies like Bitcoin are likely to appeal to terrorists groups because they are fast and efficient and allow for more anonymity since they are harder to track by law enforcement. In addition, Lamb added that Bitcoin is seeing a surge in popularity on a global scale, which might be reflected in terrorist waters as well, despite past trends.

But after EU officials announced last year to be preparing for a new bill for tighter digital currency controls, there have been multiple instances where analysists shared their disapproval of the idea. The major point of disagreement was that terrorist organizations like ISIS or DAESH have much better ways of channeling money than using Bitcoin, which is becoming more regulated and will likely continue to be so in the future.

Namely, last year’s claims were cast away as unverifiable since ISIS could only be linked to small sums of money from Bitcoin, while its main funding has been repeatedly discussed to be coming from other sources, the most prominent of which is oil, but also public funding and cash. Another disagreement is based on the fact that Bitcoin, although attractive, is still a volatile currency, leading cybersecurity experts to doubt that large terrorist networks would risk their capital by keeping most of it in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin – A tool for US Online Gamblers

Online casino players from the US often rely on Bitcoin casinos as a safe way to gamble at offshore sites that accept players from the country after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 limited the choice to but a few regulated operators. Many operators who still keep their doors open to US players allow Bitcoin transactions to add more convenience to those who want to keep their playing under the radar of local law enforcement.

To what extent will the new Act have an effect on Bitcoin usage is unknown, at this point, as the report of the proposed assessment is yet to be revealed, but suggestions have been made that it will lead to more regulatory insight into the cryptocurrency. For the time being, things remain as they are.

May 24, 2017: • No Comments

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