Germany To Become a Crypto Haven Thanks to New Law

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On November 29, the German parliament passed a bill that will allow banks in the country to sell and store digital currencies and crypto-assets. This will be effective from January 1, 2020, and only custody providers and cryptocurrency exchanges with licenses will be allowed to operate.

As such, these companies have the whole of December to apply for the necessary licenses in order to be able to legally operate in the country’s new crypto regime. To be eligible for the licenses, the companies will have to be registered as legal German entities with no less than two directors operating in the country by the end of the year.

Now, all that remains is for the bill which implements the “fourth EU Money Laundering Directive” amendment to be signed off by the 16 German states. It is expected that most, if not all, of the states will sign in favor of the bill.

The bill is a pretty huge step forward for crypto especially with regards to the quest for mainstream adoption of crypto. Before the German parliament passed the bill, banks in the country were prohibited from offering any sort of direct access to cryptocurrencies and related assets. Instead, the banks could only rely on external custodians or dedicated subsidiaries.

The Feedback

According to a number of experts in the financial sector, the move is definitely going to have a huge impact on the European crypto market. In fact, many of them have pointed out that it effectively paves the way for Germany’s ascension to crypto haven in the continent and possibly the rest of the world.

Since financial institutions already enjoy a tremendous amount of trust, they are probably the best options for the safekeeping of digital currencies and assets. Moreover, they will play a huge role in the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing which are by far some of the biggest concerns when it comes to digital currencies.

Is A Crypto Migration Possible?

Well, considering how unconducive certain jurisdictions have become for crypto investors, a shift to friendlier places such as Germany is possible. For instance, China has been cracking down on a number of crypto-related currencies. This is perhaps in preparation for the state-sanctioned cryptocurrency that the country has been pursuing. Still, domestic users are definitely going to find workarounds.

Similarly, Russia also seems to be leaning towards a possible crypto ban – the country’s central bank has recently backed a potential ban on crypto payments. The reason this is a consideration is the large number of concerns that are associated with the sector. For now, nothing has been decided yet but given the recent history of crypto regulation, anything could happen.

Facebook’s Libra and How Its Redefines Enterprise Blockchain

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In mid-June 2018, globally renowned tech company Facebook finally revealed Facebook Libra following several long months of preparation and development. As expected, the launch represents a plethora of possibilities for the crypto and blockchain space which is definitely not going to be the same again.

What It Does

Facebook Libra will deliver on one of the most notable features of other digital currencies, that is, it will allow its users to make purchases and send money to other people with close to zero fees. Users will also be able to pseudonymously cash out the digital currency online or at local exchanges points such as grocery stores. They will then be able to spend the Libra using interoperable third-party wallets apps or the company’s Calibra wallet which will not only have a standalone app but will also be built into Messenger and even WhatsApp.

During the announcement, Facebook released its whitepaper explaining the digital currency and its testnet in order to get everyone up to speed with everything before its public launch early next year. From what we have been able to gather so far, so many things about the digital currency already look very promising.

How It Will Work

Facebook will not have full control over Libra and instead, it will only have a single vote on the governance of the cryptocurrency and so will other founding members of the Libra Association who include Uber, Visa as well as Andreessen Horowitz. Each of these companies has reportedly invested no less than $10 million on various aspects of the Libra project.

Going forward, the Libra Association will be promoting the open-source Libra Blockchain and developer platform with its Move programming language. In addition to that, it will also be signing up various businesses to the platform.

Furthermore, Facebook is also set to launch a subsidiary company that will be responsible for handling crypto dealings and protecting the privacy of the users – this will be achieved by ensuring that Facebook user data never mingles with the Libra payments. In essence, your real identity will not be tied to your Libra payments with the goal being to ensure that the information is used for targeted advertising.

Why Is It Such A Big Deal?

Well, why wouldn’t it be? Facebook is one of the leading tech companies on the planet and the fact that it is embracing crypto and blockchain technology was definitely bound to generate some buzz. That aside, the company did not just announce another blockchain protocol – these have become commonplace these days. The company has instead chosen to focus on banking its unbanked users (close to 1.7 billion people). This is certainly not an easy task but if there is anyone that can do it, it’s Facebook thanks largely to the resources it has. Besides, it is going to be a very rewarding venture for the company down the line.

Australian Tax Office Hunts for Crypto Tax Evaders

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If you are a holder of crypto and a citizen of Australia or are currently residing in the country you had better be on the good books of the national tax agency. The Australian Tax Office through an April 30 press release announced that it has started collecting bulk record from Australian-designated service providers such as digital currency exchanges and other firms that are dealing in crypto.

As it stands the tax office is working with a wide estimate of 500,000 to one million Australians who have been trading in crypto-related activities and ignoring their tax obligations. The number of crypto users on Australia has been growing at a rather rapid rate and this has caught the attention of the authorities who are hopeful that the industry might help in filling some of the existing tax gaps.

Unsurprisingly, the authority’s aim is to carry on a data matching program that will help them to determine whether the taxpayer’s declarations are correct or if the crypto holders are deliberately dodging their fiscal responsibilities.

“The ATO uses third-party data to improve the integrity of the tax system by identifying taxpayers who fail to disclose their income details correctly. We also use third-party data to assist taxpayers in meeting their tax obligations through pre-filling of tax returns. This data will be collected under notice from the DSPs on an ongoing basis,” Will Day, deputy commissioner of the ATO said about the strategy.

Some of the information that the tax authority will be obtaining from the crypto-related business in the country will include purchase and sale records. Fortunately for them, Australian required businesses to keep certain critical records that include digital wallet records and keys, receipts of transfer or purchase of crypto assets as well as exchange records.

All of the taxpayers who will be found to have violated the law will first be contacted by the tax agency once the exercise is complete after which the necessary compliance action will be taken.

Crypto Tax Laws in Australia

Under Australian law, all capital gains that may be obtained from crypto trading are supposed to be taxed. The only exception is where the capital gains or the losses made are in a situation where the digital currency is a “personal use asset”. As such, in cases where digital currencies are disposed as a normal business operation, the profits that are yielded from it are considered to be ordinary income instead of capital gains. Moreover, in such a case the cost of purchasing the cryptocurrencies is considered to be trading stock and is therefore deductible – this kind of businesses are mostly trading firms and exchanges.

Worldpay, Paysafe Unite for US Gambling Partnership

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Global payment providers Worldpay, Inc., and Paysafe Group have recently announced a new strategic partnership that is aimed at establishing a standard for the sports betting and online gaming digital payments acceptance and security in the United States. This move is perhaps a well-timed response to the rapid growth of the online and sport betting industry following the May Supreme Court ruling that event that lifted the federal ban on sports betting thus individual states the go-ahead to liberate on their own sports betting regulations.

Paysafe Group is one of the world’s most popular providers of end-to-end payment solutions and its core business is enabling businesses and consumers to connect and perform seamless transactions. The company has well over two decades worth of experience, close to 3,000 employees and up to 12 global locations. Worldpay, Inc, on the other hand, is highly regarded for its capability to power global omni-commerce.

The duo’s partnership will leverage Worldpay’s optimized credit card processing, fast-fund payouts as well the included treasury and payment solutions. Paysafe, on the other hand, will be providing its online gambling and gaming digital payment options which include Paysafecard online cash solution and NETELLER wallet. With this partnership in place, the duo will be able to facilitate seamless transactions while reducing operating costs and allowing universal payment acceptance.

This is exactly what the American sports betting and online gaming industry need as they continue to grow – the American Gaming Association estimates that the sports betting market in the country is worth over $150 billion in gross online and offline gaming revenue. From the looks of it, it could become the largest sports betting market in the world and therefore reliable and convenient payment systems are necessary.

More Choices for the Players

Joel Leonoff, the President and CEO of Paysafe Group believes that the partnership will be able to effectively champion the needs of both the players and the operators by giving them access to a secure, high-configurable and cost-effective payments systems that will deliver an unmatched player experience. The innovative approach the duo will be going with means that the partners will be able to support all transactions. In essence, this means that there will be a ton of payment choices for players to choose from.

In a statement released shortly after the announcement of the partnership, Shane Happach, Worldpay’s executive vice president and head of global enterprise eCommerce pointed out that the combined strengths and capabilities of the two companies would simplify payment options for the gaming operators while “continuing to show our attentiveness to responsible gaming and our mission to protect the integrity of every transaction.”

NASCAR Plans to Implement Sports Betting Regulations in 2019

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According to Steve Phelps, the NASCAR president, the series plans to implement guidelines in the rulebook on sports wagering next year. This announcement came in the past weekend when Dover International Speedway opened its on-site sports betting kiosk during the past weekend thus becoming the only track that allowed sports gambling on its property.

As it stands, NASCAR even allows it drivers and team members to bet on the race, something that certainly represents an interesting dynamic but is likely to change in one way or the other when the sports betting regulations are implemented in 2019.

“I think for 2019, we’ll have some rules that we’ll put in place,” Phelps commented on Sunday at Dover. “For right now, there’ll be betting here. They have a kiosk here, you can bet inside. We’ll study and see how that goes, but I think we’ll have some rules in place for sponsorship, for what betting looks like, and continue to see what happens in the landscape overall.”

The on-site sports betting kiosk at Dover International Speedway opened at 9 a.m. with a modest line NASCAR and gambling fans forming to find out more about the new offering and to hopefully cash in – most of the questions that were raised were about the NASCAR prop bets. More specifically, many of the bettors wanted to know it the stage cautions count toward the total number of cautions. As it turns, they do not – only the crash and debris cautions will count.

So far, everything seems to have picked up quite well for NASCAR, the state of Delaware as well as sports betting and horse racing at Dover. In fact, according to the general manager and senior director horse racing and sports betting at Dover Downs, John Hensley, more prop bets were offered in the last weekend when compared to what had been recorded for the average race.

New Hope for NASCAR?

NASCAR is hoping to rejuvenate the sport in the wake of the May U.S. Supreme Court ruling that abolished PASPA and lifted the federal ban on sports betting. Promoters at a number of NASCAR tracks across the country are hopeful that with legal sports wagering, NASCAR will be able to keep its declining fan base by giving them more reason to stick around. The idea is also to attract new fans who will then be given a reason to invest both emotionally and financially (through such things as bets) in the budding careers of future NASCAR stars such as Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, and Austin Dillon.

Chris Powell, the president of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, considers legal betting on NASCAR activities as “manna from heaven,”:

“It very well could be a shot in the arm to NASCAR, and other forms of motorsports, because it could add a new element of excitement – whether it’s wagering on who’s going to win, or who’ll win the first segment, or a one-on-one bet, just like in golf, where it might be Bubba Watson against Tiger Woods.”

As of now, a number of betting options, auto racing included, are being offered at Dover Downs and Dover International Speedway with the betting lines being supplied by renowned bookmaker William Hill.

Highlights of the Congressional Sports Betting Hearing

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Last Thursday, the US House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigation held the Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America hearing which was meant to ascertain whether there is the need for federal sports betting oversight since the existing regulations only require the oversight of individual states.

The hearing which is the very first of its kind since the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting, a move that gave the states the go-ahead to offer legal and regulated sports betting. Some of the attendees included:

  • Jocelyn Moore, Executive Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs of the NFL
  • Les Bernal, National Director of Stop Predatory Gambling
  • Sara Slane, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs of the American Gaming Association
  • Jon Bruning, Counselor for Coalition to Stop Online Gambling
  • Becky Harris, Chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board

As expected from most hearings involving lawmakers, the hearing turned out to be a fiasco especially because the lawmakers who were members of the committee were not well-informed about the sports betting industry or the gambling industry as a whole.

The NFL’s testimony, which was given by Jocelyn Moore, was one of the biggest highlights of the hearing particularly because it largely comprised of things that most of us have probably heard before. The league’s biggest concerns, as it turns out, was the integrity of the game and age restrictions, both of which are already being handled in one way or the other by the governments in the state where sports betting has been legalized.

While the awful Internet Gambling Act (2006) and the Wire Act (1961) were not very significant to the proceeding despite the fact the internet and mobile are important in sports betting regulation, the NFL and the Coalition to Stop Online Gambling made sure that everything revolved that topic.

Fortunately, the AGA’s Sara Slane stepped in to give the other side of the story saying:

“States and tribes have proven to be effective gaming regulators in the 26 years since Congress enacted PASPA. As Congress has refrained from regulating lotteries, slot machines, table games, and other gambling products, it should similarly refrain from engaging on sports wagering barring an identifiable problem that warrants federal attention.”

What Is Next?

Even though there is a consensus that a section of the members of the committee left thinking that there was something that had to be done at the federal level in as far as sports betting is concerned, the Thursday hearing was a purely informational one and there is no plan to create a federal framework for sports betting.

Moreover, there are currently no more meetings being planned so the NFL’s bet would probably be to follow in the footsteps of the NHL and NBA that are already inking partnership deals with sports betting and casino operators.

 

Congressional Hearing on Sports Betting Set for Sept. 27

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A Congressional hearing on legal sports betting in the United States has been scheduled for next week in the US capital despite massive pushback from gaming operators who believe that there is no need for a federal framework to be put in place.

The hearing which is scheduled for September 27 will involve discussion about the proliferation of legal sports betting across the country following the recent repeal of PASPA by the United States Supreme Court. Spearheading this move is the US House Committee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigation which aims to investigate the implication of the landmark Supreme Court ruling and what it would mean for the integrity of sporting activities “as well as what sorts of improper or illicit activities could arise”.

“My subcommittee will look at the implications of this SCOTUS ruling and talk about what it means for the integrity of sports as well as what sorts of improper or illicit activities could arise,” said subcommittee chairman Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). “Ultimately, we want to determine whether or not a basic federal framework is necessary to guide states’ new gambling policies.”

Support from the Leagues

As is turns out, the September 27 hearing was scheduled about a month after Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, released some sports betting guidelines with the support of major US professional sports leagues.

 “As legalized sports betting spreads across the states, there is a need for consistent, nationwide integrity standards to safeguard the sports millions of fans love,” the NBA, PGA Tour, and Major League Baseball said in a joint statement. “We strongly support the legislative framework outlined by Senator Schumer and we encourage Congress to adopt it.”

The leagues have often expressed concerns about how fast the states have fast-tracked sports betting regulation since the Supreme Court paved the way for legalized nationwide sports betting and therefore the introduction of a federal framework would mean that the league’s lobbyist will not have to argue out their cases with each and every state.

American Gaming Association (AGA) to Testify

The AGA’s senior vice president, Sara Slane is reportedly also set to give the association’s perspective on why states and the sovereign tribal nations are best positioned to regulate and oversee legal sports betting market. It is no secret the AGA has been a strong supporter of the abolishment of PASPA pointing out that is “an essential first step to shutting down illegal sports betting”

“Bringing sports betting activity into a transparent legal market, under state and tribal regulatory oversight, empowers law enforcement to tackle illegal gambling, provides essential consumer protection and better ensures bet and game integrity. It will also create new American jobs and generate additional local, state and federal tax revenue,” reads a statement from the AGA.

LeoVegas Ventures into Esports Betting with Pixel.bet

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Mobile casino specialist LeoVegas, through its wholly-owned investment company LeoVentures Ltd., has recently made its debut into the esports betting market. This move was officiated last Thursday when the Stockholm-listed LeoVegas announced that its LeoVenture’s arm had purchased a 51 percent stake in the Malta-based esports betting platform Pixel.bet for a whopping €1.5m payable through issued shares. The acquisition deal is expected to close in in the current quarter of the year through a new share issue.

The gambling industry has been rather laid back when it comes to esports betting, only making tentative forays into the space but this is beginning to change thanks to the explosive growth of esports in terms of attendance, viewership, sponsorships, and media coverage. These developments have pushed more gambling operators or at least consider the possibility.

“Esports is an international and fast-growing area that engages millions of viewers and players every month. With this investment in Pixel.bet we as a Group will gain a unique insight into a new and fast-growing segment,” commented Gustaf Hagman, the LeoVegas’ Group CEO and co-founder of LeoVegas Mobile Gaming Group.

This is a huge step forward for esports betting and even though Pixel.bet will initially not have a significant effect on the LeoVegas Group’s revenue or financial standing, the acquisition is expected to pay off decently in the long run.

“In Pixel.bet we have found a passionate team of entrepreneurs who come from the esports community,” Robin Ramm-Ericson, Managing Director of LeoVentures and co-founder of LeoVegas Mobile Gaming Group, said. “With its strong technology and mobile-first gaming experience, Pixel.bet is a perfect match for the LeoVegas Mobile Gaming Group. Together we will drive development for the absolute premier experience in esports betting.”

The Pixel Holding Group has confirmed via its Pixel.bet entity that it is now ready to embark on a new phase of operations that will primarily be about “gearing up for a broader launch of its business”. Sweden and the Nordics are reportedly the initial focus markets for the company though it is still eying further international growth.

“We love esports. And we love betting. We want to create value for enthusiasts and add something truly extra to our community. Pixel.bet is, for example, the first to offer log-in with mobile BankID and instant withdrawals. In LeoVentures we have now found a unique partner and investor that understands and shares our passion,” stated Eirik Kristiansen, CEO of Pixel.bet.

IGT Secures Sports Betting License in West Virginia

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Casino operator in West Virginia will now be able to partners with International Game Technology (IGT) for sport betting ventures after the company was granted an interim license by the West Virginia Lottery Commission. With this approval, the casino operators will now be able to use IGT’s PlayShot integrated sports betting platform.

“Receiving approval from the West Virginia Lottery Commission to deploy IGT’s PlayShot sports betting solution throughout the State continues IGT’s momentum in pioneering sports betting across the U.S., and creates additional new market opportunities for IGT,” said Enrico Drago, IGT Senior Vice President PlayDigital. “This distinction acknowledges the reliability, security, and market-readiness of IGT’s PlayShot solution, and creates opportunities for IGT to further differentiate our sports betting solution in the marketplace.”

Sports betting in the United States has been subject to a number of pivotal changes that are expected to change the face of gambling in the country. Sports betting providers such as IGT are looking to take advantage of the new legal sports wagering market and by receiving the West Virginia license, the New York-listed IGT has made yet another important step towards achieving its goals.

The gaming technology specialist company already powers retail betting operations allowing customers to place a variety of pre-game and in-game bets over the counter at a number of locations in the country.

Rhode Island Is a Go

At about the same time that its license was granted in West Virginia, IGT announced that it and its commercial partners William Hill U.S. have been chosen by the Rhode Island Lottery to be the end-to-end sports betting service providers in the state. IGT will be responsible for providing the sports betting platform while the William Hill will be handling the risk management and sports betting operation services at Rhode Island’s licensed video lottery and table game facilities.

“We are pleased that Rhode Island is the first lottery to set up sports betting operations post-PASPA,” said Renato Ascoli, IGT CEO, North America. “IGT is a leading and proven supplier of sports betting technology in the U.S. The combination with William Hill, a leading sports betting operator in the U.S., uniquely positions us to provide the Rhode Island Lottery with a comprehensive, market-ready solution to maximize sports betting revenues and returns to good causes for the state of Rhode Island.”

The state is clearly moving fast to tap into the lucrative sports betting market that was opened up by the Supreme Court ruling that repealed PASPA in May. Once the offerings go live, the state will receive a 51 percent portion of the share with the vendor and the casinos getting 32 and 17 percent respectively. This is quite reasonable and will, therefore, have a positive impact on the industry in the long run.

“IGT is a world-class gaming technology company and we could not be more happy to partner with them to provide a world-class sports betting solution for the state of Rhode Island,” commented Joe Asher, CEO, William Hill U.S.

Esports Betting Platform Luckbox Nabs Isle of Man Online Gaming Permit

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Luckbox has long been one of the top contenders in the Esports world as far as sports betting is concerned. More people have been attracted to the Esports scene thanks to the unique opportunities for participation that the platforms such as the Bitcoin-powered Luckbox have been offering.

Things are about to get even better for both the company and its customers following a recent announcement that the company has obtained its own Isle of Online Gambling Regulation Act licensing, making it the very first Esports betting operator to acquire a license of that kind.

The license that is now held by Real-Time Games Holdings Limited, the company behind the Luckbox brand, was issued by the Gaming Supervision Commission and falls under the umbrella of the Online Gambling Regulation Act (OGRA).

The Online Gambling Regulation Act ensures that online gaming operators carry out their activities in compliance with the strict regulation in the jurisdiction – this a measure put in place to ensure that the players are only presented with the highest level of safety and security when they place wagers online.

Luckbox chose to pursue the license from the Online Gaming Regulation Act simply because the license is considered to be one of the most reputable gambling licenses in the globe – it requires all player funds to be held in mechanisms that guarantee players of compensation in case an operator goes into liquidation.

In addition to this, the licenses will allow Luckbox to accept cryptocurrency, fiat as well as in-game items as currency for game transactions. It joins some other outstanding brands such as FullTilt, SBO, PokerStars, Quanta and 188Bet that are also holders of OGRA licenses.

“This is a significant milestone for our project. As well as building an industry-leading product, having a top-tier license is what sets us apart. It offers the best protection for players and opens up fantastic opportunities for us as a business, not least enabling access to compliant marketing channels, the ability to be listed on mobile app stores, as well as accessing traditional gambling infrastructure developed over the past two decades,” Luckbox chief executive officer, Lars Lien said.

“Having received the OGRA license, established a brilliant development team and now being confident with our infrastructure partners, I am confident we will deliver an amazing product early next year that will be very hard to copy. All in all, it is fantastic news for the team and all those who have supported us so far – we are so grateful for your help.”