Spain's Treasury to allow licensed bitcoin gambling

27 December, 2014

Around the world, countries are rushing to issue their individual opinions regarding the way in which bitcoin should be handled. As more countries issue rulings, opinions have run the gamut.

Recently, Spain's Treasury stepped into the fray by acknowledging that online gambling sites in Spain with a desire to utilize bitcoins for transactions will need to first apply with the General Directorate of Games to receive a license.

The General Directorate of Games is a government body that is held accountable to the State Secretary of the Treasury. In turn, the Treasury holds the responsibility for authorizing, supervising, regulating and penalizing various gambling actions.

The ruling from the Treasury was issued following a request from Abanlex, a law firm, for clarification regarding whether the digital currency could be considered as money. Furthermore, Abanlex wanted to know ether online gambling operators who utilize bitcoins would be required to apply for licenses and pay relevant fees.

In its response, the Spanish Treasury issued a definition for bitcoins as a "convertible virtual currency." The Treasury went on to state that the currency could be exchanged between users and was also capable of being converted into other currencies, both real and virtual, including euros and dollars.

As a result of the ruling, it has been implied that any transactions involving bitcoins in bets makes it incumbent upon online gambling sites to obtain the necessary licenses for processing such transactions.

Essentially, this means that while bitcoins may still be considered very much virtual currency by many entities, when it comes to casino operators, the State Secretary of Treasury in Spain has determined that bitcoin will be treated exactly the same as real money. Many proponents of bitcoin who have been fighting for it to be recognized as an actual currency may find this to be good news, as it moves the digital currency one step closer toward becoming a mainstream currency option.

Bitcoin has rapidly become a popular option in Spain. Earlier this year, it was announced that nearly two dozen merchants in the busiest shopping district in Madrid planned to open a bitcoin themed event. Organizers expected hundreds of users to attend the event, which lasted two days. Although the bitcoin community in Spain remains small, supporters hope that such events will help to boost awareness of the digital currency.

In the map below you can see what is called the Calle Bitcoin in Madrid.

In light of Spain's recent decision regarding the status of bitcoin in terms of gambling, other countries could follow suit. Bitcoin has proven to be quite important to the world of online gambling. As the digital currency continues to develop a stronger presence and even matures with the improvement of technology, the number of online gambling sites accepting bitcoin has dramatically increased. This is certainly not a surprise, given that bitcoin is ideal for the online gambling industry.

As the fourth largest economy in Europe, Spain certainly has a tremendous amount of influence in terms of economic matters, including digital currencies such as bitcoin. While Spain can be somewhat contradictory in nature, the significant amount of political diversity has resulted in increased economic interest. This has proven to be particularly true due to the potential for entrepreneurial activity in Spain. Over the course of the last several years, startup capacity has increased significantly. Bitcoin is ideally suited for startup activity in all industries. Exactly where bitcoin will go from here remains to be seen, but with Spain acknowledging bitcoin as real currency, at least in terms of online gambling, the landscape of bitcoin could change quite soon in the future, if other countries opt to follow suit.