3 Dec

Is Bitcoin Casino Gambling Legal in CA?

Demystifying the legality of Bitcoin casino gambling in Canada.

Demystifying the Legality of Bitcoin Casino Gambling in CanadaThe moment Bitcoin hit the decentralized market, questions over its legality were raised. All uncertainties were quickly squashed by the fact that it’s decentralized. No specific nation or governing authority has any say or control over it. It is an open-source currency for the global masses. Of course, when someone had the brilliant idea to use a decentralized, unregulated currency to conduct internet gambling, those same questions were raised – and for obvious reasons.

Is Bitcoin Casino Gambling Legal?

This is a tricky question to answer. On the one hand, we could say Bitcoin is non-jurisdictional. If Bitcoin is out of a government’s jurisdiction to officiate, then it can’t be illegal to use it. That’s true, but that only relates to half of the question. The legality of gambling – with any form of currency, or “thing of value”, as every local laws define it – is decided on a jurisdictional basis.

If you scour the internet for an answer to this question, you’ll find that most people say Bitcoin gambling is legal, not just here, but there, and everywhere. Those people are referring to the Bitcoin aspect more so than the gambling / online gambling aspect of the query.

That would be like saying, “It’s illegal to buy an AK-47, unless you buy it with Bitcoin. Then it’s okay,” or, “It’s illegal to bribe a police officer, unless you bribe him with Bitcoin.” No, sorry, fully automatic rifles and police bribery are illegal, no matter how you attempt to pay for it.

What we have to do is answer these two questions separately, dealing first with the global legality of Bitcoin, then with the jurisdictional legality of online gambling.

The Legality of Bitcoin

Short and sweet – Bitcoin is legal. Cryptocurrencies are just like any other currency. You can own them, spend then, save them, invest in and exchange them. The only thing you can’t do with crypto is touch it. They are digital coins, existing only in a digital space. You can’t put them in your psychical wallet, but you can store them in a digital one.

As we already covered, Bitcoins and other cryptos are decentralized, therefore are not governed by any authoritative body. Everyone can have and spend them. They are legal, plain and simple.

The Laws Surrounding Online Gambling

Here’s where things get tricky. Every jurisdiction has it’s own laws pertaining to gambling, and/or online gambling. Generally speaking, each jurisdiction falls into one of three categories. Online gambling is either 1) expressly illegal, 2) expressly illegal, or 3) unspecified, therefore legal by default. Lets examine these a little closer.

  • Legal / White Market – A legal white market is a jurisdiction where online gambling is expressly authorized by law, with licensing and regulation maintained by a local government agency.
  • Illegal / Black Market – Online gambling is illegal when it is expressly prohibited by law. Any online gambling operator that accesses an illegal jurisdiction is said to be operating in a “black market”.
  • Unspecified / Grey Market – When the law neither prohibits or authorizes online gambling, it is said to be a grey market. It is not illegal, therefore is considered legal by default.

Legality of Bitcoin Casinos in Canada

If we put all this information together, we find that yes, Bitcoin casino gambling is legal in Canada. Not because Bitcoins are legal, but because online gambling is not illegal. Canada is one jurisdiction that falls into the “grey market” category; at least, where international online Bitcoin casinos are concerned.

Several provinces of Canada have authorized, licensed and regulated online casinos (the 100% legal, white market variety). However, these operations do not offer Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrencies on their payment menus. If you want to gamble with crypto in Canada, you’ll have to access one of the many Bitcoin casinos operating from overseas.

These websites are also legal because, again, they are not illegal in Canada. In fact, the only way an online gambling site is considered illegal is if it 1) has a “physical presence” (i.e. offices or servers) located in Canada, 2), accepts Canadian players, and 3) is not authorized by the province in which it is located. Offshore Bitcoin casinos have no physical presence in Canada, therefore are not illegal.

Is Bitcoin Gambling Legal Everywhere?

Absolutely not. No matter how many websites tell you otherwise, the laws of each jurisdiction will prevail in a court of law. For instance, online gambling is expressly illegal in the U.S. state of Washington. You cannot gamble online with Bitcoin and call it legal. The authorities may or may not pursue legal action against those who do it, but it’s still expressly illegal.

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