Is gambling with cryptocurrency legal in Italy?

The possibility of gambling with cryptocurrency would open considerable new opportunities in Italy that are currently unexploited.

We are receiving more and more requests for assistance from gambling operators willing to offer cryptocurrency as a means of payment on their platforms in Italy.  The increased popularity of the cryptocurrency market, together with a higher level of trust generated by a regulatory environment that is exponentially consolidating but at the local and the EU level, push

  • on the one hand, several players to have a wallet in cryptocurrency and try to use it for everyday expenses; while
  • on the other hand, gambling operators see that as an additional payment stream for their customers.

There are also widespread payment providers like PayPal that have a consolidated position as gambling companies’ suppliers, allowing them to perform payment in multiple cryptocurrencies.

In this scenario, Italian gambling regulations do not explicitly ban cryptocurrency but refer to euros in the regulations concerning games on provisions such as the spending limit, the maximum winning, the self-limitation features, etc.  And the same type of language is spoken by the so-called communication protocols that exchange messages with the servers of the regulator concerning bets, winnings, and the gaming account balance.

The issue might be overcome through a partnership with a cryptocurrency exchange so that when funds in cryptocurrency are deposited, they are immediately turned into fiat.  The same would happen at the time of withdrawal.  However, such an approach would vanish the whole sense of gambling with cryptocurrency since players would not be able to rely on fluctuations in the value of cryptocurrency.   Fiat can also fluctuate, and during a period of very high inflation, the loss of value of fiat appears to be enormous.  As such, this element shall not be a limitation to introducing this payment means.

At the same time, the establishment in Italy of the so-called OAM registry of cryptocurrency operators established a list of authorized operators and a specific burdensome regime within which such entities can operate.

It is just a question of updating regulations and technical standards to allow such means of payment.  But it seems that the Italian gaming authority is moving towards changes that should boost the growth of the market, an indicator of such an approach is given by the recent new sports betting regulations.

On the topic, you can read the article “New Italian sports betting rules bring major improvements.”

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Giulio Coraggio

I am the location head of the Italian Intellectual Property & Technology department and the global co-head of the IoT and Gaming and Gambling groups at the world-leading law firm DLA Piper. IoT and artificial intelligence influencer and FinTech and blockchain expert, finding solutions to what's next for our client's success.

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