Bitcoin’s fall from grace continued on February 2 when the Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC) put the brakes on cryptocurrency betting in its jurisdiction.
The block on Bitcoin and altcoin betting payments in the Northern Territory came just hours after Neds launched its first cryptocurrency platform. In an email obtained by the Australian Financial Review, operators licensed by the NTRC were told to stop accepting cryptocurrency-based transactions.
Bitcoin Backlash Hits Betting Industry
Although betting with Bitcoin is still a fairly new concept in Australia, the NTRC’s swift action appears to be fuelled, in part, by the recent crypto crackdown around the world. As well as government officials in India and China banning the exchange cash for cryptocurrencies, banks such as Lloyds have blocked account holders from buying bitcoin with their credit cards.
With regulators and officials growing increasingly sceptical of bitcoin and its potential to inflict financial misery on those that buy into it as an investment, the NTRC has joined the push back.
At the time of writing, Neds’ new betting site, which launched on February 2, is inactive pending further advice from the territory’s regulator.
Crypto Crackdowns Aren’t an Industry Standard
While it’s unclear how the NTRC will proceed, an international precedent for cryptocurrency transactions in the industry has already been set. In the UK, the Gambling Commission gave the green light to what it calls “virtual currencies” back in 2016.
Acknowledging that innovations such as Bitcoin are now recognised by the British tax authority (HMRC) and the Financial Conduct Authority, the regulator allows them as a deposit option.
“If you want to accept digital currency as a means of payment (either directly or through a payment processor which accepts digital currencies) you must satisfy yourself and us that you can meet your obligations in relation to anti-money laundering and that you are acting in a socially responsible way,” states the official guidance from the UKGC.
Following a price boom in 2017 where Bitcoin’s value increased by almost 20X, the market has gone cold in recent weeks. According to market analysts, the unit price for a single bitcoin fell below the us$6,000/AU$7,600 ON February 5, with some predicting it could fall further in the coming weeks.
Given the current uncertainty surrounding Bitcoin and other digital currencies, new investments will inevitably decrease, which could mean Neds’ new venture will remain on hold for the time being.