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Crypto Gambling Regulations in The UK

Crypto gambling has seen a steady rise in popularity globally as casinos strive to meet up with the trends of adopting digital currencies. Statistics reveal that at least 4% of all gambling has involved cryptos, and this number is expected to rise over the years.

The UK is among the regions where crypto gambling has gained significant traction. As a hub for innovation and financial services, the UK has embraced digital currencies quickly, leading to a surge in crypto gambling platforms catering to diverse players.

However, this rapid expansion has raised concerns among regulators and policymakers regarding the potential risks associated with crypto gambling, including money laundering, fraud, and the protection of vulnerable individuals. This article discusses crypto gambling regulations in the UK to help you understand crypto gambling legal status in EU countries and expectations.

Regulatory Framework in the UK

The UK Gambling Act doesn’t have specific provisions on crypto gambling. However, the factor is still under the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) regulations. Established under the Gambling Act 2005, the UKGC is the regulatory body responsible for ensuring that gambling is conducted fairly and openly, with a focus on protecting children and vulnerable individuals from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

The UKGC issues licenses to operators who meet specific criteria and monitors their compliance with regulations. This government body issued a position paper in 2017 covering the use of virtual currencies in casinos and the gambling industry.

UKGC is the regulatory body responsible for overseeing the UK gaming industry.

In that provision, it’s stated that converting any in-game items into cash or trading such items for other values means that the in-game items have to obtain real-world value and become money’s worth. Moreover, any casino or facility that provides such items must obtain a license, just as the case would before anyone who uses or receives casino chips as a mode of gambling payment.

Licensing Requirements

Crypto gambling operators looking to operate legally in the UK must obtain a license from the UKGC. The licensing process involves demonstrating compliance with various criteria, including but not limited to:

Legal Compliance: Operators must ensure that their gambling activities are compliant with all relevant laws and regulations, including consumer protection, anti-money laundering, and responsible gambling.

Financial Stability:

Starting and running a gambling facility requires finances. So, operators must demonstrate that they have the financial resources to operate a gambling business responsibly and sustainably, including sufficient funds to cover player winnings and operational expenses.

Technical Standards:

Operators must meet technical standards set by the UKGC to ensure the integrity and fairness of their gambling systems and games.

Player Protection Measures:

Operators must implement measures to protect players from harm, including age verification checks to prevent underage gambling and tools to support responsible gambling.

When an operator feels they meet all these requirements, they are ready to apply for a license from the UKGC. The application process typically involves submitting detailed information about the operator’s business operations, financials, and compliance procedures. The UKGC assesses each application’s merits and may conduct background checks and audits to verify the information provided.

Anti-Laundering (AML) Regulations

Besides licensing, casino operators must comply with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) as these provisions help combat financial crime within the gambling industry, which applies to those offering crypto gambling services.

Operators must implement robust AML procedures to guard their platforms from scams, money laundering, or terrorist financing activities. This includes conducting thorough due diligence on customers, monitoring transactions for suspicious activity, and reporting any suspicious transactions to the relevant authorities.

Additionally, operators must appoint a Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) responsible for overseeing compliance with AML regulations and ensuring that suspicious activity is promptly reported to the authorities.

Failure to comply with AML regulations can result in severe penalties, including fines, license revocation, and criminal prosecution. Therefore, operators must prioritize AML compliance to maintain the integrity and reputation of their gambling businesses and contribute to the overall efforts to combat financial crime in the UK.

Accepted Cryptocurrencies and Their Regulatory Implications

As mentioned earlier, the UK is the hub of crypto gambling. As such, the regulation bodies have accepted a range of cryptocurrencies for gambling transactions on various platforms. While the specific cryptocurrencies taken may vary depending on the gambling operator, some of the most commonly accepted ones include:

Bitcoin (BTC)

Bitcoin is the first and most well-known cryptocurrency, often accepted by many gambling platforms in the UK. Its widespread adoption and recognition make it a popular choice for players who wish to gamble using cryptocurrency. Bitcoin transactions offer a degree of anonymity and decentralization, although they are still traceable on the blockchain.

Ethereum (ETH)

Ethereum is a blockchain platform that supports smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps). Ether (ETH) is its native cryptocurrency; some UK gambling platforms accept it. Ethereum’s smart contract functionality enables more complex gambling applications like decentralized casinos or prediction markets.

Litecoin (LTC)

Litecoin is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that offers faster transaction times and lower fees than Bitcoin. Some UK gambling operators accept Litecoin for deposits and withdrawals, providing players with an alternative to Bitcoin.


Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies pegged to the value of fiat currencies, such as the US dollar or the British pound. Examples include Tether (USDT), USD Coin (USDC), and Dai (DAI). Some UK gambling platforms may accept stablecoins to give players a more stable and predictable value for their gambling funds.

Ripple (XRP)

Ripple is a digital payment protocol that enables fast and low-cost cross-border transactions. While less commonly accepted than other cryptocurrencies for gambling in the UK, some operators may still offer XRP as a payment option.

Bitcoin Cash(BCH)

Bitcoin Cash is a fork of Bitcoin that aims to improve scalability and transaction speed. It shares many similarities with Bitcoin and is accepted by some UK gambling platforms as a payment method.

While cryptocurrencies offer advantages such as increased privacy and lower transaction costs, they also present regulatory challenges due to their pseudonymous nature. Consequently, gambling operators must ensure compliance with regulations such as the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 when dealing with cryptocurrency transactions.

Furthermore, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned about the risks associated with investing in cryptocurrencies and has cautioned consumers about the potential for scams and fraud in the cryptocurrency market. As such, gambling operators must provide clear and transparent information to players about the risks of using cryptocurrencies for gambling transactions and take steps to mitigate those risks.

Player Protection

Crypto casinos must implement various measures to promote responsible gambling among their players. These measures include setting deposit limits, offering self-exclusion options, providing access to support services for problem gambling, and displaying prominent warnings about the risks associated with gambling. Additionally, crypto casinos should conduct robust age verification and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks to ensure that players are of legal age and not vulnerable.


In the UK, taxes on gambling winnings apply regardless of whether the winnings are in fiat currency or cryptocurrency. However, the taxation of cryptocurrency winnings from gambling activities can be complex due to the volatile nature of crypto assets and the lack of clear guidance from tax authorities. Players must generally report their crypto gambling winnings and pay taxes according to their applicable tax laws.

Challenges and Future Developments

One of the main challenges facing the regulatory landscape of crypto gambling in the UK is the evolving nature of cryptocurrencies and the decentralized nature of blockchain technology. This presents challenges for regulators in terms of monitoring and enforcing compliance with regulations. Additionally, concerns about the potential for crypto gambling to facilitate money laundering and other illicit activities have led to increased scrutiny from regulatory authorities.

We consulted about this topic with Artem Kuzmenko, a partner and head of the gambling practice at the international law firm Eterna Law. When asked about the global nature of cryptocurrencies and how the jurisdictional concerns impact the legal landscape for crypto gambling in the UK, he replied:

“Strict regulations and huge penalties have driven cryptocurrency gambling into a grey area, possibly even into illegal territory. The Gambling Commission acknowledges the rising popularity of cryptocurrency casinos but faces significant hurdles. These include the lack of consensus on the legal status of cryptocurrencies and the challenges in complying with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) principles.”

Potential future developments in regulations related to crypto gambling in the UK include stricter rules to address concerns about consumer protection, AML, and tax evasion. Alternatively, there may be a shift towards more permissive regulations to encourage innovation and investment in the crypto-gambling sector. However, regulatory uncertainty and conflicting approaches between different jurisdictions could continue challenging regulators and players.

Take Aways

Crypto gambling comes with a ton of benefits. Still, casinos operating in the UK must adhere to the above regulations, which help promote responsible gambling, prevent money laundering, and ensure tax compliance.

Players should also be aware of their obligations regarding taxes on crypto gambling winnings and the risks associated with gambling. While challenges persist in the regulatory landscape, the future of crypto gambling in the UK will likely be shaped by ongoing technological developments, regulation, and consumer behavior.

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