Bitcoin Major Update: Spain Reportedly Cracks Down On Bitcoin Gambling

The Spanish government agency that oversees matters of finance and taxation has issued a new ruling stating that bitcoin should be treated as an electronic payment system, a decision that could have a far-ranging impact on Spain’s bitcoin economy.

El Ministerio de Hacienda y Administraciones Públicas issued the ruling in response to questions from Coinffeine, a Spain-based, open-source bitcoin exchange platform. Abanlex, the company’s law firm, had previously reached out to both El Ministerio de Hacienda and the country’s Congress seeking clarity on two issues in April.

With its response, El Ministerio de Hacienda found that bitcoin-based online gambling companies in Spain must now apply for licenses. Further, the ruling, coupled with new statements from Congress, suggests that bitcoin transactions involving a business may be subject to existing laws that impose a cap on cash transactions of €2,500 or more, even when gambling with bitcoin.

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Coinffeine sought clarity from el Ministerio de Hacienda on whether online bets conducted with bitcoin should be considered binding from a legal standpoint. Further, it aimed to solicit a response from Congress as to whether certain financial laws applied to bitcoin.

Coinffeine CTO and co-founder Ximo Guanter told CoinDesk that the rulings represent a significant development in terms of how bitcoin is being regulated globally. “The ‘big-theme’ news here is that Spain is starting to treat bitcoin more like a currency than as an asset, which is the inverse of what the US has done.”

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Congress said in its statements to Abanlex that, should bitcoin be considered an electronic payment system, then additional laws would apply to bitcoin businesses, leading Abanlex to interpret that a current law prohibiting cash payments to businesses of more than €2,500 and existing anti-money laundering (AML) laws apply to bitcoin.

Introduced in 2012, the cash transaction cap prohibits Spain’s consumers from paying cash to settle bills of more than €2,500. The law was part of a broader effort to curb tax evasion in the wake of the country’s larger economic issues.

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