With little oversight, online casinos that offer ways to gamble using cryptocurrencies have thrived. Sometimes all you need is an email.
Online casino gambling in the US is illegal in all but six states, and is governed by strict rules that make it difficult for users to move money in and out of regulated internet casinos.
But those rules don’t hold up so well when it comes to bitcoin
Internet casinos that offer users a way to gamble using cryptocurrencies are on the rise, skirting regulations while operating and advertising with near impunity. Dozens of websites operating outside the US now offer a way to start gambling quickly, many with few background checks on users.
“This segment has exploded in a very short time, and as a decentralized system, it makes it even more difficult to figure out how to go after them,” said Alex Costello, vice president of government relations for the American Gaming Association. A trade group that lobbies on behalf of gamers, american casinos and registered sports betting companies. “We are a highly regulated industry for good reason: anti-money laundering concerns, responsible gaming concerns,” Costello added.
People with gambling addiction have another reason: the lack of mechanisms to stop them from gambling. A gambling addict who spoke to NBC News but asked not to be identified said that crypto casinos do not offer the same addiction mitigation features as conventional gambling services, such as the ability to ban oneself.
“I did everything I could locally to avoid doing it, and all of a sudden this Ave Maria came along,” he said. «I could self-exclude 20 times and it wouldn’t make any difference, because you can go back and create another account.»
Online gambling has greatly increased in recent years both in the US and abroad. Twenty-two states and Washington, DC have legalized online sports betting.
Online casinos that operate outside of the US and legally serve Americans are required to register in each state where they operate and often make an effort to verify the physical location of their customers. They receive deposits through credit cards or bank transfers, in accordance with federal regulations to prevent money laundering.
Cryptocurrencies are also in the midst of their own boom, with companies racing to sell Bitcoin, Ether, and a variety of other digital assets. One in 5 Americans has invested, traded, or used cryptocurrency, according to a recent NBC News survey.