Australian gambling regulator Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC) has issued an informal ban against all cryptocurrency online wagering, singling out bitcoin and ethereum. Just days before, one of its licensed online gambling sites announced it was offering bitcoin to its customers.
Paul Cherry CEO of Australian online gambling site Neds explained: “We strongly believe in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as a viable and secure method of online exchange. With this announcement we wanted to ensure that Australians who share our positive outlook on cryptocurrencies can use them to bet with us.”
“We’ve always prided ourselves on being a technology company,” he continued. “We’re not just sports and racing enthusiasts and bookmakers – we’re also programmers, analysts and computer nerds – so this felt like a natural step for us. And we think there is a lot of crossover into that target [crypto] market.”
The Brisbane, Australia online gambling website received a great deal of notice for its acceptance of bitcoin. Billed as the first of its kind for the continent nation, Neds even had plans to incorporate alternative coins. Neds also claimed it would absorb over 2 percent of the transaction fees incurred by users.
Neds was licensed by Fall of last year, ready to go, with all wagering happening in bitcoin, from the bet to eventual withdrawal. Mr. Cherry mused: “It is a technological solution, and we see ourselves as tech guys, so it seems very fitting that we integrate bitcoin or some other cryptocurrencies into our platform. A lot of people may be non-sophisticated investors who have acquired some bitcoins during the recent hype and are probably wondering what to do with them.”
Regulator Teases Ban
And then it all came crashing down within days. At press time, the cypto.neds.com.au site redirects to its formal platform, and all traces of bitcoin seemed to have vanished, including in its search function. Earlier, that very page carried the warning: “Our site is currently offline pending further instruction from NT Racing Commission.”
In an email obtained by The Australian Financial Review, regional gaming regulator NTRC stressed it “is intending to issue a formal communique to all sports bookmakers and betting exchange operators licensed in the NT if currently transacting in cryptocurrency (for example Bitcoin, Ethereum and the like) for their wagering operations to immediately cease and desist.”
For whatever reason, the Australian government has had what local press are calling an “antagonistic stance regarding cryptocurrency”, going so far as to place limits on those licensed from competing with international wagering outfits online: broadcast ads are restricted as are types of poker and other games. Businesses unresponsive to the likes of emails above risk losing favorable tax advantages along with license generally.
In the meantime, Neds continues offering its online Aussie clientele wagers in fiat.
What do you think about Australia’s move against bitcoin gambling? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Pixabay, Neds.
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