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What We Like:
- Top Canadian Sportsbook for Real Money
- Wide Variety of Betting Choices
- High Payouts – 97.5% Payout
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eChecks are a great way to get money into gambling accounts. They only require you to have a bank account or even a web wallet, and they are as safe as can be. As a result, eChecks have become one of the most popular methods to gamble online in Canada. And when it comes to Canadian sportsbooks that accept them, Sports Interaction stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Sports Interaction is actually licensed here in Canada and is devoted to the Canadian market. It offers markets on sports that Canadians love, but sports that aren’t always covered by other sites. What’s more, because it is licensed here, you know that you are gambling legally, safely and within the confines of Canadian law. With so much ambiguity around surrounding these laws at the moment, that’s a good thing to know.
What is Sports Interaction?
Sports Interaction was launched way back in 1997. It classes itself as an all-in-one gambling destination, which is to say that it offers all forms of gambling under one virtual roof. Sports Interaction is a leading Canadian sportsbook and casino and is regulated both within this country and Jersey, which allows it to offer its services to players across Europe and further afield.
Sports Interaction was once open to US players as well. However, they stopped allowing them to join in 2013, with only those who had accounts prior to that date still allowed to play on the casino and use the sportsbook.
Sports Interaction have often been criticized for not offering bonuses as big as some of their rivals in Asia and Europe. And to some extent this is true. However, they have upped their game a lot in the last few years and the bonuses on Sports Interaction now far exceed what you can get on sites like SkyBet and BetFair, two of the biggest betting sites in Europe.
Sports Interaction announced a $100 Betting Bonus in 2017 that all new players were welcome to. There were terms and conditions attached to this bonus, of course, but there was nothing you wouldn’t expect.
This bonus is also available whether you use a credit card, a debit card or an eCheck to deposit. One of the many issues gamblers have with sportsbooks and casinos is that they try to funnel players toward a certain payment method by limiting the deposit bonus to those methods. That’s not the case with Sports Interaction. You choose whatever method you like and they give you the welcome bonus—simple as that.
eChecks to Withdraw
eChecks are not best suited to withdraw with. In fact, many gambling sites won’t let you use them. They are a great deposit method, but when it comes time to collect your winnings you’re much better off using an alternative method. Luckily, on sites like Sports Interaction you have many of these to choose from.
You can use any of the following methods to get your winnings:
- Virtual Visa
- Credit Cards
- Debit Cards
- uKash (UK only)
ATTENTION PayPal Casino Depositors:
We’re passing on a severe warning today to all of our readers who use PayPal casino deposits. A reputable cyber-security firm has revealed that PayPal users have become the subject of a new email phishing scam.
PayPal account holders have reported receiving emails that appear to be from the popular online payment processor. However, they are not actually coming from PayPal, and anyone who clicks the link within the email is redirected to a fake website, then asked to supply highly sensitive account verification information, including login, password, real name, address, country of residence, social security number, etc.
The warning originated from ESET Security, a cyber-security firm that’s been operating out of Slovakia for the last 25 years. ESET specializes in web-based firewall securities and virus protection software.
New PayPal Phishing Scam
Don’t let yourself become he next victim of this malicious phishing scam. We’re advising all of our PayPal casino depositors to be very careful if they receive any emails that appear to be coming from PayPal, especially those that warn the user that their account needs attention.
There’s several ways in which users can be proactive about protecting their PayPal accounts. One is to make sure that the email, and the link supplied within, are genuinely coming from PayPal by closely observing the context for grammatical and/or syntax errors.
“First, there’s an email with logos and verbiage that sounds great (that is, “look and sound authentic”),” said ESET security researcher, Cameron Camp. “Notice, however, errors in grammar and syntax that suggest the author isn’t a native English speaker. That’s one of the clues.”
As an example, Camp published an actual email that appeared to come from the online payment processor.
From: PayPal <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Your Account Has Been Limited (followed by a legit-looking Case ID #)
The email goes on to describe an “issue” with the user’s account, requesting the user help PayPal to resolve the problem. Until it’s resolved, they are warned that their account has been “temporarily limited”.
Within the text of the email, however, there are several grammatical errors, such as:
“We understand it may be frustrating to not have full access to PayPal account.”
In proper English, that should have read “to your PayPal account.”
Then there’s a header that reads:
“What the problem’s?”
Obviously, that should state something more to the effect of, “What is the problem?” or “What the problem is.”
The recipient is then advised that the problem “usually pretty easy” to resolve, by simpy supplying “a little ore information”. They are asked to click the Login link below to access their account and find out more.
Upon clicking such a link, the observant PayPal casino depositor will notice that it doesn’t direct them to a paypal.com website. Instead, it could be one of thousands of dynamically generated scam URLs. The page displayed may look completely legitimate, but the URL domain will give it away.
It could even look as if it has a genuine security certificate by starting with https://, or hxxps://, but don’t let that fool you.
As Camp noted, “the domain has nothing to do with PayPal sites, but rather are scam URLs. As with other campaigns, scammers typically use a myriad of dynamically generated domain names — sometimes slight variations on the real name — which is another clue that something isn’t right.”
#1 Way To Avoid PayPal Phishing Scam
Even if the information in the email is written in proper English, you should never click the link within the email. If you want to check on the status of your account, instead, open a new browser and type in the URL – in this case, https://www.paypal.com.
If there is a genuine problem with your account, you will be notified the moment you login through PayPal’s secure server. If, on the other hand, you are able to login and access your account as normal, you know the email was a fake phishing scam.
Sports Interaction – 100% BONUS
What We Like:
- Top Canadian Sportsbook for Real Money
- Wide Variety of Betting Choices
- High Payouts – 97.5% Payout
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Many of us have a different reaction when we hear the term ‘real money casino gambling‘. Some may recoil with thoughts of addiction and losing money. Others will find their interest piqued by the prospect of a popular pastime. But it’s interesting how those perceptions can change when plastic is involved.
The invention of plastic was a phenomenal thing. The first wholly man-made variety was patented by English metallurgist Alexander Parkes in 1856, and won him a Bronze Medal when he unveiled it at the 1862 World’s Fair in London.
Since then, synthetic plastics have become a crucial part of everyday life. Every household appliance, from stove top ovens and coffee pots, to computers and mobile devices, contains plastic. The cars we drive, the bottle of mustard we squeeze onto a sandwich, the wrapper on the pack of cigarettes we know we shouldn’t be smoking – all derived from plastic.
And of course, there’s the plastic in our wallets and pocket books. In today’s day and age, plastic credit cards are essential to anyone old enough to own one.
The first credit cards came out in the 1920’s when major businesses, like hotels and oil companies, established them as a way to let their employees charge purchases at company-owned retailers. Then in 1950, the first bank-issued credit card, by Diner’s Club, was released. Within a year, 20,000 people owned one. American Express followed suit in 1958, and half a century later, most of us wouldn’t know how to live without them.
Another genius invention was the poker chip, also derived, in part, from that precious substance we call plastic. Genuine casino chips are actually compression molded, using mostly clay, combined with other substances to make them more durable. Unless you buy the cheapest variety off the shelf, the only plastic thing on them is the outer coating, which helps protect the printed design in the center.
Real Money Casino Gambling with Chips
Getting back to my original point, though, plastic credit cards and man-made poker chips have completely altered the way most of us perceive spending and real money casino gambling.
When we go to a department store, we are more reluctant to make a large purchase if it involves parting with actual cash out of our pockets. Swiping a piece of plastic, on the other hand, gives us the false impression that we’re not really parting with that money – at least, not yet. We can always pay the bill at a later date, or even just a portion of it when the monthly statement arrives in the mail.
The same perception takes place in a casino. We use cash to purchase chips, but at that moment, the money is still ours, so we don’t feel guilty about it. Once we get to the blackjack table or roulette wheel, those chips become nothing more than a symbol.
While the chip represents cash value, it doesn’t give us the same feeling of reluctance we may suffer if we had to place a real bank note on the table. We may be more inclined to double down on that 11, or split those 9s, when we don’t feel like we’re using real money.
The casino gambling industry is well aware of that fact, and takes full advantage by requiring all players to use chips – not cash – when placing their bets. The only exception to that rule is made for high-rollers and VIPs who play on private tables, and have no qualms with separating large stacks of bills from their person.
Five long years ago, PokerStars and two other major US online poker sites were brought down by the Department of Justice on April 15, 2011; now known as as Black Friday. Despite the antiquated nature of the incident, court trials are still pending against some of those named in the indictment. Paul Tate‘s case has finally been closed, and by ‘facing the music‘, he actually impressed the judge enough to avoid jail time.
Paul Tate was the man responsible for the oversight of all payment processing at PokerStars, prior to its US closure. A citizen of the UK, Tate has been living on the Isle of Man for many years now, where the PokerStars’ operations are headquartered. That fact played a key role in his ability to walk away from the trial without earning bars for walls.
Just Because He Showed Up…
Back in October, Mr. Tate came to the United States to appear in a Manhattan court room, where he pleaded guilty to the charges against him – aiding in the operation of an illegal online gambling business – before US District Judge Lewis Kaplan. His guilty plea carried with it the possibility of up to 5 years in prison.
While Judge Kaplan appreciated the severity of Tate’s crimes, he was more impressed by the defendant’s current actions than he was disenchanted by any former transgressions. You see, residing on the Isle of Man gave Paul an elevated level of protection from US authorities. They would have been unable to force the island’s government to extradite him onto US soil to face trial.
But extradition wasn’t even necessary, had it been an option. Mr. Tate voluntarily turned himself in, choosing to accept his fate, whatever it may be.
Tate Fined for Illegal US Online Poker
And that fate was a good one, compared to the potential penalty he was facing. Judge Kaplan chose to fine the US online poker site’s former head of payments an amount of $119,000. Not even a fine, really, but rather a forfeiture of personal earnings derived from his crimes.
In his final ruling, the US District Judge told Tate: “Given that you couldn’t be extradited for this, you deserve a world of credit for coming to face the music.”
Not only did Tate choose to “face the music”, as Judge Kaplan put it, he never once denied his involvement in the illegal online gambling operation. He admitted his crimes and told the court, “I very much regret the choices I have made.”
The 43 years old payments manager’s words and actions rung with enough sincerity to convince the court he wasn’t a man worthy of spending time behind bars.
10 Down, 1 To Go
Paul Tate was just one of 11 individuals who were named when the DOJ unsealed indictments relating to the illegal operation of 3 US online poker sites, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. Prosecutors claimed that these operators used shell companies as legitimate fronts to trick American banks into processing billions worth of payments.
Tate joins 9 other indicted individuals who also chose to “face the music”, pleading guilty to aiding in illegal US online poker operations. The 11th, Isai Scheinberg, founder of PokerStars, remains at large.
I’ve long considered Skrill to be one of the best Canadian casino deposit options on the market. But with the parent company, Paysafe Group (which also owns Neteller) changing the rules for its immensely popular Prepaid MasterCard, that may no longer be the case.
This prepaid card, commonly referred to as the Skrill Card, is a physical, plastic card that all Skrill members could apply for. They’d have the card within days, and could use it to directly access the funds in their Skrill account, using it online or at any land-based retailer that accepts MasterCard. They could even withdrawal the funds at most ATM machines.
This was a Godsend, because, even though most Canadian casino deposit options are instant, withdrawals rarely are. The Prepaid MasterCard gave internet gamblers one of the only instant withdrawal options on the market. As soon as their online casino processed a cashout request to Skrill, the funds would become instantly available through this prepaid card.
It was enough to overlook the relatively high fees charged by Skrill to use its service. These include a $10 annual fee for the Skrill Card, 1.9% fee on all credit/debit card deposits to Skrill, 1.9% fee to send money, plus a $7.98 fee to withdrawal funds to a bank account (eliminated by the use of the Skrill Card).
But alas, Paysafe Group announced just last week that, as of today, November 25, 2016, Prepaid MasterCard services would no longer be available in over 100 countries. Only a few specific countries were named in the announcement, including Australia, Brazil, Columbia and New Zealand. Whether Canada would be effected was unknown at the time.
But now, the truth is out. The Skrill Card FAQ page has been updated with a cute little asterisk mark that notes:
“*Skrill card is only available to residents of authorized Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) countries.”
As the full title implies, SEPA Countries are, obviously, all located in Europe. There are 34 of them in all, consisting of 28 European Union (EU) member states, 3 members of the European Economic Area (EEA), and 3 states that have agreements (but not full membership) with the EU.
Complete List of SEPA Countries in 2016
Clearly, the Skrill Card is no longer available to Canadians.
Neteller Net+ Prepaid MasterCard Out Too?
It’s widely assumed that Neteller’s Net+ Prepaid MasterCard will suffer the same fate, sooner or later. The email from Paysafe Group that went out to countless customers recently only indicated that Skrill Prepaid MasterCard would no longer be available in many countries. But being the parent of both companies, and with both cards being issued through MasterCard, why alter one and not the other?
Mystery Behind MasterCard Elimination
The company gave absolutely no indication as to why it pulled Prepaid MasterCard from all but SEPA countries, but I have a theory.
The SEPA was established to create a cheap – most often free – means for European states to make quick payments for customers and merchants alike. SEPA actually eliminates the traditionally high fees associated with bank wire transfers. And, as of November 2017, SEPA payments will all become instant. So essentially, it’s an area where payments are fast and cheap, and could save Paysafe Group a lot of money in the long term.
Now let’s look at MasterCard’s role in Canada. For years, MasterCard deposits were free. Then today, out of nowhere, a Canadian forum member posted that he’d been trying to use a prepaid MasterCard to make a $200 deposit at an online casino, but it kept getting declined.
He called up MasterCard to ask why, and was told the company is now charging a minuscule fee for deposits. In his case, it was only $0.37, but that was $0.37 more than his prepaid card had on it.
I think there’s a connection here. If MasterCard started charing customers more as of today, it would make sense they are charging card issuers like Skrill more, too.
Today, November 25, Skrill Prepaid MasterCard is shut down in Canada, and today, Prepaid MasterCard deposits require a fee? It would certainly seem Paysafe Group new about the upcoming changes to the credit card company’s fee schedules, and revoked use of the card in non-SEPA countries to avoid paying whatever new fees they were surely about to be assessed.
Best Canadian Casino Deposit Options
Since Skrill’s biggest attraction was its instantaneous withdrawals, Canadians who don’t want to pay the relatively higher fees may want to try one of these alternative methods.
Again, we have to assume the Net+ Prepaid MasterCard will eventually be stripped from Canada as well. But for now, it’s still available, making Neteller a great option, similar to what Skrill was 24 hours ago.
If my theory above is correct, perhaps Paysafe Group is keeping the Net+ Prepaid Card on Neteller to see how the new fees effect their bottom line. If it doesn’t cause too much of a dent, the withdrawal option may stick around after all.
eCheck, ACH, InstantCheck
eChecks have always been one of the top Canadian casino deposit options. They are the electronic equivalent to writing a paper check, but without the elongated wait time. They are instant, just like eWallets, and all it takes to use one is to enter the bank’s routing number and the user’s bank account number (the same info that appears on a paper check).
In many cases, you can use this method for withdrawals. However, it can take a few extra days for the bank to process the funds. In reality, it takes a few days for the online casino to receive the funds, as well, but because eChecks are instantly verified (to make sure the money is available in your bank), the operator will go ahead and give players access to those funds, despite the fact that they haven’t received them yet.
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Your good at math. You have a tidy bankroll stowed away. You’ve decided it’s time to turn your stash into more extra cash by playing real money blackjack online. That’s not a bad idea, seeing as blackjack is the most profitable game in any casino – but let’s back it up a moment.
Ask yourself a few questions first. Have you ever played blackjack? Do you truly understand the rules of the game? Are you aware that there are dozens of rule variations you could come across? Have you developed an optimal strategy for the type of blackjack game you intend to play?
If you answered ‘No‘ to any of these questions, you’ll want to keep reading.
Usefulness of Free-To-Play Blackjack Apps
I know you want to play real money blackjack online, where you can actually win cash. But the best way to learn the rules and develop a proper strategy is to practice. Playing free blackjack games just for fun is the best way to accomplish that.
Not just any blackjack app will do, though. You need one that allows you to set the various rules, and provides optimal strategic data for all hands. There are some great blackjack training apps out there that offer these features, compatible with all iOS and Android mobile and tablet devices.
Some of my favorite blackjack apps include:
Know The Rules You’re Going To Play
Selecting only the best rules for the lowest house edge isn’t going to get you anywhere. There’s no casino out there that’s going to provide all the best rules on a single table. Instead, you’ll need to see what rule variations are available at the online casino you intend to play at (see next section for more info).
Because these free-to-play blackjack apps allow users to set the rules, you can enter the exact rules in the settings menu before you start practicing. This way, when you do start playing real money blackjack online, you know you’ll be working with the best possible strategy, giving you the lowest house edge and, therefore, the highest possible win rate.
Real Money Blackjack Online
Never assume that all internet blackjack sites are created equal. For every reputable operator out there, there’s a rogue operator hoping you’ll deposit with them instead. Take your time. Do your research. Find an operator with a long-standing reputation for honesty, integrity and quick, reliable payouts. Royal Vegas is a good example, as it meets all of these standards.
Also make sure players from your country are accepted, and that the deposit/withdrawal methods meet your needs. Then, peruse the available blackjack games and see what rules they offer. If the rules are appealing, make sure the pay table is too.
A natural blackjack should always pay 3:2. If the payout is anything less than that, find a better game. Decreasing the payout for a natural blackjack is the easiest and most covert way for casinos to hike up the house edge by as much as 2.27%.
Finally, remember that it’s impossible to turn the tides completely into your favor. If it were that easy, casinos would be out of business. The best you’ll manage playing real money blackjack online is a house of about 0.4%. With the right knowledge and strategy, you’ll only need a bit of luck to overcome that minuscule edge.
Since the advent of virtual currencies, and more specifically, “virtual commodities”, a very fine line has been drawn between what does and does not constitute real money gambling online. The issue has been highlighted by a UK court trial in which two men have been accused of facilitating illegal gambling, including the advertisement of gambling services to minors.
The two Essex men in question are Craig Douglas (31) and Dylan Rigby (33), a pair of video bloggers who record and upload football game content on YouTube, and at the same time, advertised for the website www.futgalaxy.com; a website where access from UK customers was blocked earlier this year.
Both men were charged with advertising unlawful gambling. Additionally, Douglas was charged with inviting minors to gamble, while Rigby was charged with providing facilities for gambling without a license.
According to the UK Gambling Commission, all counts are direct violations of the Gambling Act of 2005.
Using Virtual Items for Real Money Gambling?
The offences are related to the use of a virtual commodity known as Fifa Coins, which can be purchased or win in the Fifa computer game, and can be used on www.futgalaxy.com, and some other third-party sites, to place bets on virtual football matches and other eSports. The winnings can then be transferred back into the Fifa game.
After being charged in September, Douglas and Rigby pleaded not guilty on October 14. The hearing will begin on February 6, 2017, where the Birmingham Magistrates’ Court will whether or not Fifa coins constitute a virtual currency.
If that’s the case, computer game companies and websites that deal in these virtual currencies would be required by UK law to apply for a regulatory licence from the Gambling Commission, as their activities would fall under the guidelines of real money gambling.
Gambling Commission’s Mind Made Up
The Gambling Commission published a discussion paper in August in which a warning was emitted to operators of internet-based platforms that supply eSports betting where virtual commodities, obtained in game, are used to facilitate wagers. The Commission advised operators that they may require a gambling license to continue their services.
Trading of in-game items that can be bought, won, traded, sold or used were deemed “digital commodities” by the Commission, especially when those items can be “converted into money or money’s worth”. In cases where those items can be gambled with, the Commission defined them as “a form of virtual currency”.
Christopher Rees-Gay of Pinsent Masons, who specializes in gambling law and licensing, and is a prime legal consultant for Out-Law.com, gave his opinion on the matter.
“The crux of the issue is whether in-game items have a monetary value derived from the current market price and can be converted back into real-world money, and whether the court’s interpretation of the Gambling Act accords with that of the Gambling Commission on the matter of virtual currencies,” said Rees-Gay.
“The Commission in its recent discussion paper stated that ‘where ‘skins’ are traded or are tradable and can therefore act as a de facto virtual currency and facilities for gambling with those items are being offered‘ it considers that a gambling licence is required,” he explained, noting that facilitating gambling without a license “is an offence under section 33 of the Gambling Act 2005…”
Rees-Gay called this an “important case”, as it will clear up an existing “grey area” of the law for operators in terms of what does and does not constitute real money gambling where virtual items and currencies are concerned.
Many of today’s top companies rely on the publications of commercial research analysts to determine the right path for the future of their businesses. Online gambling is one of the largest internet-based industries in the world today, outpacing the projected revenue of years past.
Now, thanks to the existing popularity of mobile casinos and the recent emergence of virtual reality casinos, the global iGaming market is expected to almost double in the next five years.
A new research report from analytical firm Juniper Research predicts that “global online gambling wagers” will come close to “$1 trillion by 2021”. That’s a bold prediction, but one the research company has a great deal of faith in – and for good reason.
VR, Mobile Casino Market To Spur Growth
Juniper based it’s finding on the fact that mobile casino gambling has risen at a wild pace in the last two years. On top of that, with the emergence of virtual reality casinos earlier this year, that particular venue is expected to experience enormous growth over the next five years.
Millennials were raised on technology. They grew up playing PC and console video games, with multi-player online action that greatly supersedes anything the Atari, Nintendo and Sega consoles delivered to members of Generation X. They were essentially bred to appreciate the next big thing, and for the internet gaming industry, virtual reality is it.
Juniper’s latest findings are based on evidence that “gambling activities were increasingly migrating to the online environment, with the majority of net growth attributable to users of mobile channels.” Thus, as more and more gamers take to their smartphones and tablets, the mobile casino industry will see a great deal more wagers coming their way.
Furthermore, the research firm suggested that “new technologies such as VR would provide a further stimulus to the online casino sector, which is expected to account for just under half of wagers by value in 2021.”
Juniper estimated that the global online gambling market, which saw total wagers of “just over $550 billion this year”, will skyrocket “to nearly $950 billion by 2021.” Comparatively speaking, that would put the online and mobile casino market on a level plateau with the “ total spend on all digital goods and services”, which has been “forecast to exceed $1 trillion for the first time in 2021.”
User Engagement Important for Growth
The study’s author, Lauren Foye, explained why the researcher believes mobile and VR casino platforms will make up such a valuable percentage of the overall market – nearly half – five years from now, and how operators can tweak their products to keep more players coming back.
“User engagement goes a long way towards drawing in return business,” said Foye. “Providing features such as news and media on favourite teams, as well as personalised offerings based on past betting activity, enables greater engagement and is likely to reduce churn.”
Key Hindrances For iGaming Growth
While the outlook is incredibly positive for online gambling operators to take full advantage of VR and mobile casino technologies, Juniper Research suggested that a few hindrances will hold the market back from exceeding that projected growth.
Overall, there’s been a strong movement towards iGaming regulation around the world, but “a number of countries (such as the Philippines) have hardened their stance in recent months and have moved towards outright prohibition.”
It’s also worth noting that online gambling regulation has been much slower in the US than previously anticipated. Three years ago, it was thought that at least 10 US states would offer some form of online gambling by 2019, but here we are in 2017 already, and only three states have moved to regulate online casino and/or poker games.
The analysts also predicted that Bitcoin won’t make a huge impact on the industry. “Whilst a number of leading sportsbook providers, including William Hill and 888 now offer Bitcoin,” read the report, “Juniper believes that the cryptocurrency is unlikely to see mass-adoption, even in the gambling space.”
Lastly, while virtual reality casinos are the expected wave of the future, Juniper said, “The new format of VR will attract a niche clientele initially,” but that those same players “will wager significant amounts on real world ‘casino-style’ VR gambling products.”
After 10 years, its blatantly apparent that Bitcoin’s digital currency has successfully wormed its way onto the accepted list of virtual payment methods. While millions of people have come to appreciate the anonymity of Bitcoin, the US government wants to ensure the service is only used for good.
According to a newsletter published by Sandia National Laboratories on August 18, entitled ‘Beating Bitcoin Bad Guys‘, Sandia has been commissioned by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop forensic tools to help investigate criminal activity revolving around the crypto-currency.
Researchers have already formulated a list of requirements for the analytics tool, and what it must be capable of doing in terms of surmounting the various challenges Bitcoin has presented to law enforcement agencies.
Andrew Cox leads Sandia research team in developing Bitcoin digital currency forensic tools (photo Dino Vournas)
The project is headed by the lab’s R&D Systems Analyst, Andrew Cox, who confirmed the need for new, innovative tools to help federal authorities tackle the increasingly difficult task of investigating crytpo-currency crimes. These include such duplicitous incidents as cyber theft, convoluted money laundering schemes and the black market trade of illegal goods.
“Our job was to understand how Bitcoin works,” said Cox. “Bitcoin is a new semi-anonymous currency that holds the potential to change the way all sorts of transactions work in a way that might really benefit the economy.”
He went on to explain some of the “potential benefits” of Bitcoin’s digital currency in a responsible economy, including “making monetary transactions much more efficient, and thereby driving down the costs of doing business, making transaction histories more transparent, which could help both financial markets and financial regulation, and — depending on who you ask — reducing the risks associated with inflation and reliance on centralized monetary institutions.”
Unfortunately, all of those perquisites have been overshadowed by the ‘dark side’ of anonymous digital currencies. “It has been clear that criminals have been pioneers in using Bitcoin,” explained Cox. “They use it for drugs, for guns, child pornography, and all sorts of terrible stuff.”
For the moment, Sandia’s research into the development of Bitcoin forensic tools is being fabricated for use by the DHS Science and Technology directorate, which has requested researchers create a front end GUI that agents can use to test the various algorithms in actual investigative scenarios.
“This will allow us to adjust what we’re doing to make sure we’re being of maximal use to them,” said Cox.
The lab confirmed that, once testing is completed and approved, the technology could be administered to other federal law enforcement agencies.
The biggest challenge faced by researchers has been “trying to truly understand all of the various patterns associated with Bitcoin transactions,” explained the systems analyst. He said they’ve incorporated the use of “past investigations as examples of patterns”, which they’ve been able to use to identify accurate configurations.
He added that there is no singular algorithm that will effectively solve crypto-currency crimes. Identifying suspects will take myriad tools and data cross-referencing, as well as “good old-fashioned police work.”
The ultimate benefit, said Cox, will be the adoption of the digital currency by more legitimate businesses once federal agencies are able to “effectively combat illicit Bitcoin commerce and reduce its perception as a tool of criminals”.
It’s official – UK licensed internet gambling sites will soon present their members with a new classification of payment methods. The UK Gambling Commission has declared that digital currencies like Bitcoin will soon be eligible for use to fund iGaming accounts.
Last week, the UKGC revealed a slight alteration to its Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP). The digital currency amendment appears under the LCCP’s ‘Licence Condition 5.1.1, Cash and cash equivalents‘, which now reads:
“Licensees, as part of their internal controls and financial accounting systems, must implement appropriate policies and procedures concerning the usage of cash and cash equivalents (eg bankers drafts, cheques and debit cards and digital currencies) by customers, designed to minimise the risk of crimes such as money laundering, to avoid the giving of illicit credit to customers and to provide assurance that gambling activities are being conducted in a manner which promotes the licensing objectives.”
Note that the newly revised LCCP will go into effect on October 31, 2016. Digital currencies will not be available for licensed internet gambling sites until then.
Surprising Turn of Events
The regulation of digital currencies like Bitcoin came as a bit of a surprise. There was only one mention of the fact that the UKGC was even contemplating eligibility for the virtual payment method.
In an annual report released in early July, the Gambling Commission skimmed over the subject ever so slightly when mentioning potential topics of increased interest.
The only line in the report that referred to the possibility read:
“A further area for continuing future focus will be on emerging products and digital currencies…”
That paragraph went on (notably lacking any further mention of digital currencies) to read:
“…The growing market in esports and computer gaming has scope to present issues for regulation and player protection – issues which are being examined by gambling regulators in other international markets. These issues range from the emergence of real money esports betting markets, to trading in-game items which blur the lines between gambling and social gaming. Our focus will be to understand developments, including engaging with key stakeholders, and we will work wherever we can to ensure the risks associated with these, particularly to children and young people, are minimised.”
What It Means for Internet Gambling Ops
The quiet introduction of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies will allow UK’s licensed internet gambling operators to implement a wide range of digital payment methods. The new regulatory guidelines do not stipulate which currencies are and are not eligible, giving operators a wide berth in terms of selection. Due to popularity and longevity of service, there’s little question that Bitcoin will get the most attention out of the gate.
However, it will be up to each operator to implement digital currencies responsibly, with the UKGC maintaining ultimate oversight via the LCCP’s extensive “best practices” documentation. The framework therein mandates that operators strictly comply with preventative measures to thwart any payment method from being used for money-laundering.
Because Bitcoin and other virtual currencies come with a heightened level of anonymity for users – that was, in fact, one of the driving goals in creating them – the UKGC will certainly take additional steps to further enforce the region’s Know Your Customer (KYC) policies for internet gambling operators.