Bitcoin, Isle of Man

Isle of Man Minister for Economic Development John Shimmin on promoting Bitcoin-based betting : “I welcome this move to create a framework for the regulation of digital currencies.” (Image: foxbusinessnews.com)

It may be a tiny, windswept island in the middle of the Irish Sea, but the Isle of Man is also one of the world’s premiere online gambling regulatory jurisdictions. It also has a rather progressive attitude towards technology, as was apparent by the island government’s declaration earlier this week that it would establish safeguards to protect users of digital currencies, such as Bitcoin.

The Department of Economic Development (DED) announced that its long-term ambition is to build an environment that would allow businesses to thrive in this “rapidly” emerging field. An increasing amount of online gambling companies are embracing Bitcoin, the a digital crypto-currency with a global circulation of more than $1.4 billion that operates outside the central banking system and is traded via encrypted peer-to-peer networks.

“The Isle of Man recognizes both the risks and opportunities presented by digital and virtual currencies,” the DED said in a statement. “Our stance is intended to welcome those who can meet the necessary standards while also preserving the Island’s good reputation as a financial centre…We anticipate that this market will develop and change rapidly and, as a result, we will keep market changes under review and with a view to consider future regulatory regimes as required,” it added.  “Of course, if any business were to undertake activities that are regulated under existing regulations, we will expect them to comply fully.”

“A Framework for Regulation”

The DED said it would work with the Isle of Man Financial Supervision Commission to implement a new regime that would seek to protect consumers and businesses through the implementation of anti-money laundering initiatives and other measures; however it added that this would be expected to take a “period of time”.

“I welcome this move to create a framework for the regulation of digital currencies,” said the island’s Minister for Economic Development John Shimmin. “The Isle of Man is synonymous not only with innovation, but for a regulatory environment that is both effective and pragmatic.”

According to Shimmin, the announcement reaffirms the island’s status as a “jurisdiction that welcomes well-controlled and compliant businesses while sending a clear message to those who would seek to operate outside the law that we are open for good business only.”

First Ever Bitcoin-only Sportsbook

Meanwhile, as the World Cup is now in full swing (which bookies are predicting will be the biggest betting event of all time), the arrival on the scene of the Internet’s first Bitcoin-only sportsbook, BetVIP, launched this week with the promise of “adding transparency and legitimacy to the nascent currency.” While it has been preceded by Bitcoin-only online casinos, BetVIP is the world’s first sportsbetting site to take wagers and pay out winnings exclusively in bitcoin.

“BetVIP is not a PR stunt – it is a long-term business venture,” founder Daniel Schwartzkopff assures us. “Our gaming license and strict bet acceptance policy demonstrates our commitment to the longevity of the currency. There is a massive opportunity to provide both a secure and reliable platform for Bitcoin holders and take on the traditional online sportsbooks,” he said.

The company, which has its offices in Malta and South Africa, only accepts bets in regulated markets. “We might trade in an anonymous currency but we are providing complete transparency and accountability in order to build trust with our players,” says Schwartzkopff.