As long as there are entities willing to accept wagers from players, there will be online gambling. But as long as there is online gambling, there will also be forces looking to restrict people from enjoying their action, predominantly in the form of governments stepping in and preventing their people from betting online. Another country has recently joined that club, restricting its residents from gambling, and opening up a door for the bitcoin gambling industry in the process.
In Colombia, over 300 online gambling websites have been banned by the South American nation’s gambling regulatory committee, including established brands like PokerStars, William Hill, and Paddy Power. The ban is the result of the sites refusing to pay a licensing fee to allow their online betting to continue in Colombia, a cost that seemed prohibitive from the start in a country where disposable income is not high enough to justify those costs.
The licensing fees for betting sites to continue operating in Colombia were over $160,000 per operator, with two different taxes on player deposits thrown on top of it. Understandably unable to justify those costs in a country that may not bring back the right return on investment, those 300-plus sites will instead have to live with not being able to operate in Colombia.
Colombia joins a few other countries who have decided to limit their residents’ freedom to do what they please with their money, as other nations to recently ban online gambling include Australia and Russia, with Australia’s ban on online gambling leaving many in fear that major poker sites will stop offering services to Australian players entirely.
When one door closes, another door opens or so they say. And while the door looks to have closed on many internationally respected online gambling brands in Colombia, the door is opening up for bitcoin gambling sites as a result. With many Colombians no longer to use their native currencies to perform their online gambling, they will have to find an alternative way to fund their accounts, and bitcoin could be exactly what they are looking for.
Examples of bitcoin stepping in and making online gambling possible for players whose governments have restricted them from playing are becoming more widely available, as bitcoin gambling becomes more and more pervasive thanks to those restrictions. Perhaps the best example is the United States, where bitcoin gambling has exploded in popularity thanks to the comprehensive bans on using American dollars toward online gambling transactions.
Right now, Americans can use their dollars to buy bitcoin from exchange sites such as Coinbase, transfer their bitcoin to a wallet like those found on Blockchain.info, and then transfer their funds from their wallet into the online gambling sites of their choosing. While it isn’t the ideal process for someone looking to place a wager right away, it is certainly better than nothing, and has worked well for many Americans and could work for many Colombians as well.
Of course, rather than banning online gambling from players entirely, the smart thing to do would be to simply regulate the process to ensure that everything is on the level. As mentioned earlier, there will always be someone out there to accept online gambling transactions from willing players and, thanks to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, those willing players will always have a way to fund their accounts. So rather than trying to play a whack-a-mole type of game with online gambling operators, governments would be better off using practical regulations to provide a better experience for all.
For a look at a country that is going about this the right way, look no further than the United Kingdom, whose gambling commission made sure to add digital currencies like bitcoin to the group of acceptable payment methods for the entities that are licensed through the commission. This is done with the consumer in mind, to ensure their protection, as opposed to the countries banning gambling entirely and then leaving their residents to their own devices in finding a place to play.
It’s clear that countries are not going to stop banning online gambling anytime soon, and it’s becoming even more clear that there are better ways to protect their people than through restriction, as the UK and its regulated approach have shown.