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Thread: NPR: Is Online Gambling Legal If Bitcoins, Not Dollars, Are At Stake?

  1. #1

    Default NPR: Is Online Gambling Legal If Bitcoins, Not Dollars, Are At Stake?

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechcons...=1&f=102920358

    With no government ties, Bitcoin is used to buy everything from blogging services to Brooklyn-made cupcakes. Theoretically, millions of dollars are being kept in the digital currency, and it's increasingly being used by specialized online gambling websites. But is Bitcoin gambling legal?


    Purely in the interests of journalism, I decided to get my hands on some of the currency. When I did so, Bitcoin, which has been around for a few years now, was fetching around $17 on most exchange sites. It has since risen to more than $20.


    It turns out that it's really easy for someone to give you Bitcoin, but it's less easy to just buy them from a third party. I ended up asking a friend with some Bitcoin to help I told him I'd buy him a couple beers later. So, I created a Bitcoin account, and he shot me a few.


    The first gambling site I tried was SatoshiDice, an online dice game specifically designed for Bitcoin. Honestly, it's a pretty boring game. You just bet on whether a random dice roll will come up below a certain value.


    After I bet 0.02 Bitcoin, SatoshiDice sent an email saying I won. So, I bet the equivalent of 34 cents and I won 38 cents, meaning I came out a little bit ahead.


    The federal government says online gambling is a no-no. In the last few years, the Justice Department has made it very clear: You can't just open up an offshore casino online and start taking bets using actual money from the United States.


    But last year, a couple of entrepreneurs asked themselves what if you were only betting with Bitcoin?


    "What Bitcoin does is that it totally circumvents that," says Jerry Brito, who studies the currency as part of his work as a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. "There is no Bitcoin company, there's no Bitcoin building that regulators can get their hands on. It's basically cash."


    This month, Brito has been following news of SatoshiDice's financial reports. The dice-game company says it made the equivalent of over half a million dollars in profits in just six months of operation in 2012, accepting bets in Bitcoin. But that betting could turn into a legal black hole.


    After all, no one knows if Bitcoin is money, a financial instrument or something else.


    "We don't have a bank account at Seals with Clubs," says Bryan Micon, the spokesperson for SealsWithClubs.eu, a Bitcoin-based poker site. "There's no bank account. There's no bank of any sort that we do. We only do this one weird brand-new Internet protocol transaction that some of the nerds out there are calling money."


    Micon says it might be tough for the Feds to regulate what is just a piece of computer code and not real money.


    I started to wonder if I broke the law by gambling online using Bitcoin. So I called the Justice Department. It declined to comment for this story.

    But here's the thing with gambling with Bitcoin: My winnings are still in Bitcoin. It's up to me to convert those back into dollars. And that extra step is deliberate, says Brito of George Mason University.


    "The fact that they are doing that seems to suggest that they themselves are not 100 percent sure that this will be seen as perfectly legal by regulators," he says, "wherever they're based."


    For now, I still have 0.8 Bitcoin in my account, worth about $13 assuming that it's not raided by the feds.



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  3. #2

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    Bitcoins aren't money according to TPTB...so no...


    HEHEHEEHEHEHEHE
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  4. #3
    Untimely ripped fisharmor's Avatar
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    Gambling laws are usually vague enough to refer to gambling itself as an action involving something of value.
    There is no requirement I'm aware of that legal tender be involved in any way.

    Bottom line is the state is going to do what the state wants, the state wants you only to use FRNs, and if they aren't shooting your dog and throwing you in a rape cage over bitcoin yet, it's only because they haven't gotten around to it.
    There are no crimes against people.
    There are only crimes against the state.
    And the state will never, ever choose to hold accountable its agents, because a thing can not commit a crime against itself.

  5. #4
    Member Zippyjuan's Avatar
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    Would it be any different between using money to buy poker chips to gamble with and using dollars to buy bitcoins to gamble with?
    I am Zippy and I approve of this message. But you don't have to.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Would it be any different between using money to buy poker chips to gamble with and using dollars to buy bitcoins to gamble with?
    Yes it would be. A chip is a representation of actual legal tender while bitcoins are not. A chip is expected to be exchanged back into legal tender by the casino at a fixed rate while there is no expectation or guarantee one will be able to or at what rate will they be able to exchange their bitcoins for legal tender.
    My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right, tend to be unwilling or unable to accept blame )

  7. #6

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    Does anybody watch the new sketch comedy show on Comedy Central called Kroll?

    Not only is it the same name as Kroll Inc, a corporation that has been connected to the private international intelligence and security industry and has been connected to the 9/11 attacks by various 9/11 researchers (The comedian's name happens to be Nick Kroll..) but I've seen a couple anti-liberty propaganda pieces on the show already. The second one was on the last show, they had two sketches making fun of people who bought bitcoins and insinuated that they were stupid for doing so.
    "He's talkin' to his gut like it's a person!!" -me
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  8. #7
    Member Zippyjuan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazek View Post
    Yes it would be. A chip is a representation of actual legal tender while bitcoins are not. A chip is expected to be exchanged back into legal tender by the casino at a fixed rate while there is no expectation or guarantee one will be able to or at what rate will they be able to exchange their bitcoins for legal tender.
    So you won't convert bitcoins back into dollars?
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  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    So you won't convert bitcoins back into dollars?
    There is no converting.. there's only exchanging. Meaning I can get dollars for bitcoins if I can find someone who is willing to take them and give me dollars. Casinos don't exchange, they convert and they promise to convert at a fixed rate.

    I think that's an important distinction. Do you disagree?
    My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right, tend to be unwilling or unable to accept blame )

  10. #9
    Member Zippyjuan's Avatar
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    I don't see the distinction.
    I am Zippy and I approve of this message. But you don't have to.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    I don't see the distinction.
    Well perhaps if you'd get your head out of your ass you would. Bitcoins are monopoly money that some people are willing to cough up legal tender for, while chips are representations of legal tender. Only a monkey wouldn't see the difference.
    My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right, tend to be unwilling or unable to accept blame )

  12. #11

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    We really shouldn't be name calling.

  13. #12

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    INTRADE just banned the Americans due to the gov't regs.
    Bitcoins mayhap could let all Yanks bet on the Dublin site!!!

  14. #13

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    Like bittorrent, gambling sites that accept bitcoin will exist somewhere in the world always and can't be stopped.

    Bitcoin is a one world currency...but instead of asshole Bilderberg's in control, the people are. It is an escape for anyone in the world wanting to get away from their central bank.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hazek View Post
    Well perhaps if you'd get your head out of your ass you would. Bitcoins are monopoly money that some people are willing to cough up legal tender for, while chips are representations of legal tender. Only a monkey wouldn't see the difference.
    Both are representatives of legal tender.
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  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Both are representatives of legal tender.
    Not if I say it isn't. Or you say it isn't. Or Hazek says it isn't. There is a large swath of the population that flatly reject bitcoins as tender. A poker chip belonging to a certain casino, on the other hand, isn't rejected.

    That's the point. They're not synonymous. Not anymore than my hair clippings are representative of legal tender should people use them to trade for dollars. It's asinine to even pretend bitcoins have any degree of parity with a poker chip.
    Last edited by BSWPaulsen; 02-08-2013 at 06:51 PM.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by hazek View Post
    Well perhaps if you'd get your head out of your ass you would. Bitcoins are monopoly money that some people are willing to cough up legal tender for, while chips are representations of legal tender. Only a monkey wouldn't see the difference.
    Some monkeys might, actually.
    "We do have some differences and our approaches will be different, but that makes him his own person. I mean why should he [Rand] be a clone and do everything and think just exactly as I have. I think it's an opportunity to be independent minded. We are about 99% [the same on issues]." Ron Paul

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by BSWPaulsen View Post
    Not if I say it isn't. Or you say it isn't. Or Hazek says it isn't. There is a large swath of the population that flatly reject bitcoins as tender. A poker chip belonging to a certain casino, on the other hand, isn't rejected.

    That's the point. They're not synonymous. Not anymore than my hair clippings are representative of legal tender should people use them to trade for dollars. It's asinine to even pretend bitcoins have any degree of parity with a poker chip.
    There are more people interested in bitcoin globally than a poker chip that is only accepted at the casino it came from.

    Maybe I missed your point?

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paladin69 View Post
    There are more people interested in bitcoin globally than a poker chip that is only accepted at the casino it came from.

    Maybe I missed your point?
    Interest != Representative of Legal Tender

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by BSWPaulsen View Post
    Interest != Representative of Legal Tender
    Ah, alright. Yeah that wasn't really an argument I cared about. I just care about what has value.

    If I cared about what government considered legal tender, well, then we wouldn't get involved with half the things we do that aren't USD. I just like this story because it defies the will of governments and there isn't much that can be done about it.

    If people want to continue arguing over petty stuff instead of trying to make some money for themselves, then I guess that is their business and I'll stay out of it.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by VoluntaryAmerican View Post
    Some monkeys might, actually.
    You're right, I can definitely see how my post may have insulted some monkeys.
    My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right, tend to be unwilling or unable to accept blame )





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