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Presented by:
Lawrence G. Walters, Esq.
WWW.GAMEATTORNEYS.COM
North American Gaming
Regulators Association
Annual Conferen...
• Virtual currency has been
attempted since the inception
of the Internet
• Beenz.com famously failed in
2001
• Bitcoin, i...
History of Bitcoin
• November 2009: Satoshi Nakamoto
published “Bitcoin: A Peer-To-Peer
Electronic Cash System”
• January ...
• Negative press and
uncertainty:
• Silk Road
• Closure of Mt. Gox
• Volatility of exchange rate
• However:
• Large, publi...
• Bitcoin ATM unveiled on
Capitol Hill
• Major websites accepting
Bitcoin:
Bitcoin Today, cont.
• CoinMarketCap.com keeps
track of various altcoins
Other Alternative Currency
Major players
after Bitcoin:
• Litecoin
• P...
• IRS position: Bitcoin
“property,” not “currency”
• Federal Judge found Bitcoin is
form of “money”
• U.S. Dept. of Justic...
“The fact is that virtual currencies
are unlikely to disappear entirely.
As such, turning a blind eye and
failing to put i...
• New York planning “regulated” Bitcoin
exchanges
• ATLAS ATS, a Bitcoin trading platform,
has partnered with the National...
• New York may attempt to
adapt existing laws for
virtual currency
• Lawsky most concerned with
money laundering and
secon...
• U.S. Treasury Dept. FinCEN:
individual miners/users are not
‘Money Service Businesses;’
Exchanges are MSB’s
• Accepting ...
Recent Developments
• Senator Joe Machin (D-W.Va) called
for all-out ban on Bitcoin:
“This virtual currency is currently
u...
Recent Developments
• Former Obama Adviser Larry
Summers: “Serious mistake” to
“write off” Bitcoin
• Bloomberg
terminal ge...
• FEC allows political groups to
accept Bitcoin donations
• $100 contribution limit per person
per electoral
Recent Develo...
• [intentionally blank]
Recent Developments
• SatoshiDice launched in 2012
• Estimates claim online gambling
accounts for nearly half of all
Bitcoin transactions
• On...
• For the consumer:
• Anonymity
• Winnings received immediately
• Uniformity of currency
• Operators generally take lower
...
• For the operator:
• Low transaction costs
• Game integration
• No charge backs
• Widespread customer availability
Popula...
• Licensed sites accepting Bitcoin from
known customers
• Winpoker
• Gaming regulators
prohibiting/warning against the use...
• Altcoins are here to stay!
• Need for regulator development of
effective, coherent policies:
• Reconciling anonymity of ...
• Prohibition
• Often initial reaction to unknown
• Rarely works
• May encourage underground
operations
• Customers may no...
• Conservative Regulation
• Insist altcoins only come from customer
with KYC info
• Require traditional payment history
• ...
• Moderate Regulation
• Eliminate one or more of Conservative
Regulation points
• Rely primarily on licensees to provide
a...
• Minimal Regulation
• Permit payment and payout in Bitcoin
• Rely exclusively on licensees to keep
accurate accountings
•...
• No Regulation
• Not a viable or realistic option
• Bitcoin transactions subject to
abuse due to anonymity
Potential Appr...
• Altcoins will continue to grow in
popularity
• Players will increasingly
demand altcoin payment
alternatives
• Federal a...
• Getting ahead of the curve is
key
• Develop forward-thinking
policies and practices
• Update regulations as legal
climat...
Q&A
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NAGRA 2014

  1. 1. Presented by: Lawrence G. Walters, Esq. WWW.GAMEATTORNEYS.COM North American Gaming Regulators Association Annual Conference – June 9-12, 2014
  2. 2. • Virtual currency has been attempted since the inception of the Internet • Beenz.com famously failed in 2001 • Bitcoin, in 2009, brought with it a resurgence of “altcoins” The Beginnings of Alternative Currency
  3. 3. History of Bitcoin • November 2009: Satoshi Nakamoto published “Bitcoin: A Peer-To-Peer Electronic Cash System” • January 2009: “Genesis Block” mined • Bitcoin meant to be: secure, non- regulated, decentralized and anonymous • Cannot be created or destroyed
  4. 4. • Negative press and uncertainty: • Silk Road • Closure of Mt. Gox • Volatility of exchange rate • However: • Large, publicly traded hedge funds investing Bitcoin Today
  5. 5. • Bitcoin ATM unveiled on Capitol Hill • Major websites accepting Bitcoin: Bitcoin Today, cont.
  6. 6. • CoinMarketCap.com keeps track of various altcoins Other Alternative Currency Major players after Bitcoin: • Litecoin • PeerCoin • Ripple • Dogecoin
  7. 7. • IRS position: Bitcoin “property,” not “currency” • Federal Judge found Bitcoin is form of “money” • U.S. Dept. of Justice: Bitcoins could be considered “legal means of exchange” Contemporary Regulatory Climate
  8. 8. “The fact is that virtual currencies are unlikely to disappear entirely. As such, turning a blind eye and failing to put in place guardrails for virtual currency firms while consumers use that product is simply not a tenable strategy for regulators.” -Benjamin Lawsky, New York’s Superintendent of Financial Service
  9. 9. • New York planning “regulated” Bitcoin exchanges • ATLAS ATS, a Bitcoin trading platform, has partnered with the National Stock Exchange Regulatory Climate, cont.
  10. 10. • New York may attempt to adapt existing laws for virtual currency • Lawsky most concerned with money laundering and secondarily, tax issues Regulatory Climate, cont.
  11. 11. • U.S. Treasury Dept. FinCEN: individual miners/users are not ‘Money Service Businesses;’ Exchanges are MSB’s • Accepting virtual currency may trigger AML and KYC obligations • Steve Stockman (R-TX) unveiled “Virtual Currency Tax Reform Act” to change status of altcoins to currency Regulatory Climate, cont.
  12. 12. Recent Developments • Senator Joe Machin (D-W.Va) called for all-out ban on Bitcoin: “This virtual currency is currently unregulated and has allowed users to participate in illicit activity, while also being highly unstable and disruptive to our economy.”
  13. 13. Recent Developments • Former Obama Adviser Larry Summers: “Serious mistake” to “write off” Bitcoin • Bloomberg terminal gets Bitcoin: investors believe this might stabilize price
  14. 14. • FEC allows political groups to accept Bitcoin donations • $100 contribution limit per person per electoral Recent Developments
  15. 15. • [intentionally blank] Recent Developments
  16. 16. • SatoshiDice launched in 2012 • Estimates claim online gambling accounts for nearly half of all Bitcoin transactions • Online gamers betting billions of dollars on Bitcoin sites • CoinDesk: Legal online gambling is next major Bitcoin market Bitcoin & Gaming: The Explosion
  17. 17. • For the consumer: • Anonymity • Winnings received immediately • Uniformity of currency • Operators generally take lower cuts • Transparency of transaction Popularity of Bitcoin & Gaming
  18. 18. • For the operator: • Low transaction costs • Game integration • No charge backs • Widespread customer availability Popularity, cont.
  19. 19. • Licensed sites accepting Bitcoin from known customers • Winpoker • Gaming regulators prohibiting/warning against the use of Bitcoin • Vera&John began accepting Bitcoin payments • Subsequently asked by Malta’s Lotteries and Gaming Authority to cease accepting Bitcoin until regulations are promulgated Developments In Regulated Jurisdictions
  20. 20. • Altcoins are here to stay! • Need for regulator development of effective, coherent policies: • Reconciling anonymity of altcoins with Know Your Customer (KYC) obligations • Maintaining proper AML, accounting and financial reports • Enforcing compulsive gambling exclusions and underage prohibitions Issues Facing Gaming Regulators
  21. 21. • Prohibition • Often initial reaction to unknown • Rarely works • May encourage underground operations • Customers may not understand objections, especially if they have existing relationship with company Potential Approaches
  22. 22. • Conservative Regulation • Insist altcoins only come from customer with KYC info • Require traditional payment history • Require customer cooperation with access to altcoin transaction tracing • Require immediate conversion to currency • Prohibit refunds or payouts in Bitcoin • Prohibit Bitcoin-integrated games • Insist Bitcoin only be used as payment method to result in credits to account Potential Approaches
  23. 23. • Moderate Regulation • Eliminate one or more of Conservative Regulation points • Rely primarily on licensees to provide accurate reporting • Include KYC / AML requirements and player/licensee cooperation for audits and verification Potential Approaches
  24. 24. • Minimal Regulation • Permit payment and payout in Bitcoin • Rely exclusively on licensees to keep accurate accountings • Permit integrated altcoin games • Require AML/KYC elements to avoid corruption, underage gambling & geo- blocked or compulsive players Potential Approaches
  25. 25. • No Regulation • Not a viable or realistic option • Bitcoin transactions subject to abuse due to anonymity Potential Approaches
  26. 26. • Altcoins will continue to grow in popularity • Players will increasingly demand altcoin payment alternatives • Federal and state authorities will become more active in regulating Predictions
  27. 27. • Getting ahead of the curve is key • Develop forward-thinking policies and practices • Update regulations as legal climate and technology evolves Conclusions/Take-Aways
  28. 28. Q&A

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