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  1. As lifelong fans of gambling and in particular online gambling it is fantastic to see how many countries are adopting a positive stance towards the hobby. Even if a region does not currently allow local licensing and advertising opportunities, they tend to adopt a ‘no harm, no foul’ approach which allows players to gamble at offshore casinos without any legislative requirements. In a 2021 review of the legal online gambling landscape Slotegrator reported that gambling regulation falls into one of four distinct categories: Those where gambling websites must be licensed by the local regulator (32 countries) Those where only local gaming sites need a license, not foreign sites (32 Countries) Those where online gambling is prohibited, but no legal action is taken against play at foreign sites (28 countries) Those where there are no gambling restrictions at all (93 countries) When looking at the European Union in the context of these categories is becomes clear that the majority of the member states have adopted or are investigating a multi-license regime. ✓EU Free Trade Supports Gambling Regulation For those who are unfamiliar with how the European Union works simply put it is an agreement between 27 member countries that make up most of continental Europe that aim to promote economic and political unity. As a response to the devastating impact of World War 2 on Europe, the European Economic Community (EEC) was created in 1958 to foster financial dependencies. The logic being that when countries are reliant on one another for trade the likelihood of aggression declines. According to a report by the EU Commission in 2021 “82% of products traded in the Single Market are subject to harmonised rules and some 18% of intra-EU trade in goods fall under mutual recognition”. Given that the EU free trade agreement is such a pivotal part of the makeup and longevity of the Union, online gambling became a hotly debated topic as the UK, who was still a member of the EU at the time, promoted full regulation and licensing and expected to be able to trade with its partners. Jurisdictional legislators such as Malta became highly respected markets who expected EU member states to recognise the validity of an MGA licensed casino to trade within the Union. Members that stood against regulated online gambling were seen to be contradicting the compact, and this early friction ultimately led to a burgeoning European online gambling industry. ✓EGBA Striving for Standardised Regulation As with any other multi-party endeavour one of the challenges members of the EU have had to face is how their differing definitions, requirements and even fee structures have become stumbling blocks for their peers. To assist in creating a unified logic to regulation and a set of standards the Brussels-based European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) was founded. “EGBA works together with national and EU regulatory authorities and other stakeholders towards a well-regulated and well-channelled online gambling market which provides a high level of consumer protection and takes into account the realities of the internet and online consumer demand.” To achieve a sustainable online gambling regime the EGBA strives to: Achieve a well-regulated and competitive market Define an ambitious set of European industry standards Build an integrity-based betting market Address betting-related match-fixing and corruption In addition to creating forums for discourse and staying on top of the day-to-day minutiae associated with tracking the gambling rulings and legislative decision making of 27 member countries the EGBA is also a founding partner of the EU Athletes program, a member of the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) and registered with the EU Transparency register since 2009. A July 2021 decision by the EU Commission to not reinstate the Expert Group on Online Gambling to assist regulators in coordinating their legal efforts could see the EGBA having an even more authoritative voice as it fills the role that the Commission renounced. ✓The French Gambling Legislation Interestingly enough when looking at online gambling regulation it is important not to interchange online gambling and online casino, especially if you are looking to play Online Slots in France. While many gambling sites will say that online casino is legal in France, they are in fact incorrect, however, it is correct to say that online gambling is legal in the country. This is because in 2010 France had a massive overhaul of its gambling law which both created the current body known as the Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) and legalised all forms of land-based gambling including casino games, card games, and sports betting. However, in an unexpected turn of events when addressing online gambling the regulation only made allowance for the licensing of online poker and online sports betting, while online games of chance remained a restricted category. ✓An Avid Gambling Community Despite the exclusion of online slots and other casino games, online gambling has flourished in France with La Française des Jeux (FDJ) being responsible for betting and lottery games, while Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) is specifically responsible for horse racing. The Q2 2021 report by BusinessWire on the financial results of the FDJ reported that the “digitalised and online stakes” showed an impressive 70% growth over its Q1 results reaching €1.1 billion in revenue from stakes of €9.2 billion. Stéphane Pallez, Chairwoman and CEO of FDJ, said: “Our stakes are increasing, both online and in our point-of-sale network. Over the half-year, we accordingly recorded an increase of nearly 9% in revenue compared with the same period in 2019. Barring new restrictions in response to developments in the health situation, the Group expects to maintain good momentum in the second half and is confident in its business and results prospects in accordance with its responsible gaming model.” These reports show that the FDJ’s online performance is tracking perfectly for the body to achieve its target of €2.2 billion for the year. Market analysts expect this to come from just over €19 billion in stakes. However, the growth in both player stakes and overall revenue for France’s online gambling market has raised the question of whether their reasoning for excluding online gambling was genuine. When the regulations were announced in 2010 ARJEL argued that games of chance held too high a risk of gambling addiction. That games like slot machines encouraged high engagement and participation, something they then claimed to be looking to actively discourage. However, with the €9.2 billion in stakes over six months it proves French gamblers are an engaged and active community. Despite numerous calls in recent years for other EU member states to open their borders to regulated online gambling, to protect locals and actively participate in the free trade compact France has silently refused to budge on the issue, deflecting the conversation around casino games to a discussion of regulated online gambling instead. In a decision that further confuses the matter, France declared that its citizens may gamble at international offshore casinos. Yet this puts them at risk of playing with casinos who do not adhere to EU safer gambling standards, reduces channelisation by not offering a casino game option for slots players, and driving revenues offshore which could be funnelled into programs that would uplift the French community such education programs and compulsive disorder treatment centres. ✓The Bitcoin Casino Stumbling Block France is one of the most progressive nations in the world and as such has been at the forefront of cryptocurrency adoption. The French are proud HODLERs with nearly 4% of the population owning Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital tokens. Unsurprisingly the lion’s share of this ownership sits with wealthy, tech-savvy men and women in their late mid-twenties to mid-thirties. It should come as no surprise then that in the absence of regulation making online casino gambling illegal a large portion of the French casino market is turning to bitcoin casinos. Not only do they get to engage in leading online slots and tables games, but they stand the chance to withdraw even more of the valuable cryptocurrency in the process. However, July 13th saw a Parisian court rule that French ISPs had to block local users from accessing two cryptocurrency gambling sites. The ruling came of the back of a decision to hand over cryptocurrency regulations to Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), a securities watchdog with a specific brief to manage digital currency exchanges in the region. In this case while the casino games themselves were not the issue the ability to buy and sell cryptocurrencies in an unregulated marketplace saw the AMF flex its muscle and once again limit French players access to online casino entertainment. Once again, sane minds argue that if France would extend its current online gambling legislation to include online casino games, they could offer local players access to a secure crypto-exchange and secure a valuable revenue resource in the process.
  2. A few short years ago no one in the world understood what digital currency was let alone how it would one day change the world. Yet today discussions around Bitcoin price hikes, Dogecoin as a meme token, the impact of cryptocurrency mining on both graphic card prices and the environment are dinner table chatter around the world. As an industry where speed of processing, data security and the potential for large financial transactions are central to its day to day running the online gambling market has been heavily invested in the development of blockchain technology and the adoption of cryptocurrencies. In this article, we will delve into what separates an online casino from a cryptocurrency casino. Are there tangible benefits? What are the challenges? Can you legally gamble using cryptocurrency and what games can you enjoy? Online Casino vs Crypto Casino – The Provably Fair Difference In recent years, the line between a blockchain casino and a casino that accepts cryptocurrency payments such as Bitcoin has blurred the definition of what a “crypto casino” is. There is an increasing number of online casinos that have begun accepting deposits and will honour withdrawals via your cryptocurrency wallet. Allowing you to gamble at their casino with credits purchased via Bitcoin, Ethereum or whichever token they accept. However, a true crypto casino does far more than just trade Bitcoin for casino credits. These casinos operate on the blockchain themselves. Their websites, their games, your personal information and ultimately your wagers are placed directly on the blockchain meaning it is all protected by the most advanced encryption platform known today. With the unique hash records available when processing transactions on the blockchain, the same technology used to verify Bitcoin transactions, you can track the validity of the outcome of each game you play at a crypto casino. This system of Provably Fair gaming puts the power to review every hand of blackjack, every spin of the reels and every roll of the dice in Craps and verify that the outcome you were shown is true and unaltered by any third party interference. A great example of this Bitcoin.com which now offers casino games on its platform, that is as close the source as one can hope to get when gambling with BTC. Advantages of Crypto Gambling – Count the Cost In any scenario where you are investing your time and money, both precious commodities, we always recommend looking at the facts and making a reasoned decision from there. The advantages of crypto casinos are: Unparalleled security – Given the virtually impenetrable nature of the blockchain it offers gamblers unprecedented levels of privacy and data protection. Less intrusive experience – When transacting via the blockchain the code behind your wallet is what is needed to complete a transaction. In this case gambling at a true crypto casino will require very little personal information from you to sign up and no additional KYC documentation when you cash out. Transactional transparency – The peer to peer nature of the blockchain ensures that you have a full view of who you send money to and receive it from, as well as giving you access to Provably Fair reviews of the individual games you play. Growing selection of licensed casinos – As Bitcoin continues to pave the way for mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies so more regulated markets are beginning to accept cryptocurrencies. This ensures you all the benefits of virtual currency gambling with the support of player-centric gambling authorities. Superior banking options – The low costs, advanced security and unmatched processing speeds of cryptocurrencies make them the superior option when transacting online. However, as more casinos accept Bitcoin and other virtual currencies you still have access to web wallets and credit card transactions if you want them. Better payout percentages – With the low cost of operating an online casino on the blockchain and other revenue generation models for operators that include using the power of gambling transactions to mine for tokens blockchain casinos can offer overall payout percentages of up to 99%. This is far better than 93% to 97% offered by traditional online casinos. Casino game selection – Gambling on the blockchain no longer limits you to playing special blockchain games with poor graphics and limited animations. The world’s leading developers like Big Time Gaming now develop for the blockchain offering great casino games for true crypto casinos. Accessing traditional online casinos which transact in Bitcoin means you have access to award-winning slots and live dealer games from providers like Evolution and NetEnt. When it comes to shifting your online gambling from a known and trusted online casino to a new crypto casino it is worth digging into the pros and cons of the move and making a decision based on a balanced review of the facts and your personal needs. Choosing a Crypto Casino – Hot Button Items When discussing crypto-based casinos with our community and finding out from them what their most important selection criteria were for choosing a new online casino the following points were the most common across the board: Can I trust the casino to pay me? Will they find excuses to delay my payment? How safe is my information? Do they offer good bonuses? When it comes to finding a trustworthy online casino to play at the addition of cryptocurrencies to a casino is in fact an extraordinarily strong trust cue. With the total transparency and Provable Fair nature of the blockchain, these casinos are more exposed to their players than any traditional online casino. When you consider that you can also play at a regulated casino in Bitcoin you have added another layer of security as now have a safe technology platform and a stringent gaming authority both protecting you. The speed with which you can withdraw your winnings has always been a hot topic for online gamblers. Looking at the FAQs of leading cryptocurrency casinos like BitStarz, BitCasino and Bitcoin Games Casino they all offer instant withdrawals. The protection of your personal and financial information is of paramount importance to all reputable online casinos. In this case, it becomes a matter of degrees; online casinos are as secure as banks when they utilise 128-bit SSL encryption but the blockchain is objectively the superior encryption method and so blockchain-based casinos will always be the safer option. At their core, the types of bonuses you receive at online casinos and cryptocurrency casinos will be the same either deposit match offers, free bonus credits or Free Spins. However, you may find the wagering requirements less stringent at crypto sites and their overall payout percentages higher which could mean you stand to withdraw more at a crypto casino on paper, but only Lady Luck knows where those chips will fall. Licensing and Regulation – Does it Matter for Crypto? No matter what your preferred gambling platform is, even when playing offline, there is no substitute for the peace of mind that gambling under a globally recognised regulator brings. They are far more than just a marketing watchdog that rakes in licensing fees. These gaming authorities ensure that operators have sufficient funds to pay your withdrawals, manage national safe gambling programs, require license holders to have their business practices reviewed by third-party auditors and work with law enforcement to shut down illegal operations. Adding the technology-based protections inherent to the blockchain to this substantial jurisdictional protection ensures that you have the safest and potentially profitable online gambling experience possible. In Conclusion With the advancements made in the online gambling services available on the blockchain, it is a good time to see if at the very least your current online casino accounts offer the option to transact in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. If you live in a regulated gambling market that has approved Bitcoin gambling it is worth adding the added protection provided by the blockchain to the security you already experience under your current legislation. Cryptocurrencies are growing in mainstream adoption so getting to grips with this technical and financial phenomenon through a medium you already enjoy, online gambling, is an easy way to luddite to crypto-pro!
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