Crypto and Blockchain Use Scrutinized for Illegal Betting in Asia

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In Brief
  • A new study details the prevalence of crypto and blockchain platforms used in illegal betting in Asia

  • The study refers to crypto as a "threat" to legal betting.

  • This report is released amid a crypto crackdown across Asia.

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In a recent report published by the Asian Racing Federation Council on Anti-illegal Betting & Related Financial Crime, crypto and blockchain solutions are targeted for their facilitation of illegal betting in Asia. 

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Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are playing an ever-increasing role in the betting and gaming industry. Blockchain-based betting platforms like CasinoLand and Augur Turbo are examples of how the technology allows for more security, decentralization, and innovation in an otherwise highly regulated sector. 

As crypto continues on its path to accessibility within the gambling community, certain countries continue to regulate, or worse, ban crypto.

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The crypto threat

The research claims that the major threat comes from features intrinsic to digital currencies. The report concluded that crypto facilitates the “avoidance of anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) procedures by betting operators.” It also allows operators to circumvent betting regulations and licensing requirements. Lastly, the report says the utilization of crypto permits instantaneous, anonymous cross-border transactions from bettors and operators. 

According to the data, bitcoin particularly has seen growth in the sector as it’s accepted at around “127 offshore sports betting websites and 284 online casinos.” The report called this a seven and 13-fold respective increase since it was last analyzed in 2018. Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore are some of the biggest contributors to online betting within the research parameters.

Last year China came out to vehement crackdown on illegal betting in the country. In this case, the bettors involved used virtual currency to launder money, as well as other illegal activities. 

Regulators Catching On

The report mentions that regulators across the continent are slow to act due to the rapid growth of blockchain technology. The lack of regulation and understanding from those in positions of power creates easily exploitable loopholes for organized crime. 

However, 2021 has seen a major uptick in the number of regulations against crypto coming out of Asia. Recently, Thailand created the Kingdom’s first regulations against DeFi farming. Prior to that, both Japan’s Financial Service Agency (FSA) and India’s banks issued warnings over crypto transactions.

While Asia is certainly one of the world’s leaders when it comes to crypto engagement, it remain to be seen if increasing regulations, warnings, and reports will stifle the continent’s ability to grow in the industry.

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Savannah Fortis is a multimedia journalist covering stories at the intersection culture, international relations, and technology. Through her travels she was introduced to the crypto-community back in 2017 and has been interacting with the space since.

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