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Challenges of Implementing Crypto in Italian Online Casinos

by Janine Lindsey

The popularity of blockchain technology is on the rise in the virtual gambling industry. Players are drawn to the anonymity, security, and global accessibility that blockchain offers. Cryptocurrencies, in particular, have seen a significant boom across multiple industries. According to Statista, the number of users in the decentralized financial system has skyrocketed from 101 million in 2020 to 425 million in 2022. Online gaming establishments are no exception to this trend, with an increasing number of players using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a preferred payment method.

In Italy, the ADM (Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli) is the main regulatory body for casinos and operates under the AAMS license. While cryptocurrencies are legal and controlled in the country, they are currently prohibited in the gambling industry. This is a disappointment for many AAMS casino players, as Bitcoin is considered one of the most convenient and reliable payment systems available. However, there are several challenges hindering the implementation of blockchain technology in Italian online casinos.

One of the primary obstacles is the regulatory and legal complexities surrounding cryptocurrencies. Current local gambling regulations do not allow Italian ADM online casinos to accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment. Despite implementing laws to comply with European Union standards, the country’s gaming industry still lacks a clear framework for cryptocurrencies. The Italian government is concerned about the increased levels of crime associated with cryptocurrencies, particularly money laundering. The ability to track transactions is nearly impossible with Bitcoin, making it a preferred method for conducting illicit activities. To combat fraud, cryptocurrencies are prohibited in AAMS casinos. Additionally, there are doubts about the security of blockchain technology, as casinos have reported instances where their platforms were hacked and money was stolen. Despite high levels of protection, fraudsters find ways to exploit vulnerabilities and gain access to personal and banking details. Furthermore, there are taxation challenges for both operators and users. Cryptocurrency usage is subject to a 26% tax for sums exceeding €2,000, which can significantly impact the income of both casinos and players. While this may benefit the state budget, not everyone is willing to accept these conditions.

Another challenge is the technical integration required to incorporate blockchain technologies into online casinos. Implementing blockchain is costly for businesses, including gambling establishments. Maintaining the networks requires hiring well-trained specialists due to the complexity of the crypto ecosystem. While blockchain is meant to ensure smooth and uninterrupted transactions, an increased number of users can lead to failures. An additional challenge is blockchain interoperability, as many blockchain networks are isolated and cannot interact with other peer networks. This creates problems when transferring funds and receiving data from other networks. Moreover, the perceived lack of security with cryptocurrencies necessitates the development of additional protection mechanisms to safeguard personal and banking information.

The volatility of cryptocurrencies poses financial risk management challenges for online casinos. The fluctuating prices of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can result in significant revenue losses for casinos. Online casinos have no control over the future rates of cryptocurrencies, making it impossible to predict asset price changes. While fiat currencies also have their fluctuations, the volatility of cryptocurrencies presents additional instability. However, some argue that players come to gambling establishments to experience excitement and risk, making the use of volatile cryptocurrencies an attractive option.

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and regulatory compliance are also significant challenges in implementing blockchain technology in Italian online casinos. The complete anonymity and privacy of cryptocurrency users create difficulties for AML policies. Money laundering through gambling is prevalent, as it provides a simple way to convert illicit funds. Cryptocurrencies, which are difficult to track, are often used in this process. Italian casinos regulated by ADM strive to prevent money laundering, which is why cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are prohibited on their platforms. Furthermore, Know Your Customer (KYC) policies are crucial for online casinos. However, cryptocurrencies allow users to bypass these policies, raising the risk of scammers accessing casinos without proper verification. The lack of proper authentication is a challenge for casinos, though operators are working to implement measures to address this issue.

In conclusion, while cryptocurrencies are gaining popularity worldwide, Italian gambling establishments are taking a cautious approach to their implementation. The legal landscape, with a lack of regulations from ADM, is one of the main factors preventing casinos from accepting cryptocurrencies. The authority requires transparency and traceability in fund transfers, which cryptocurrencies currently do not provide. Integrating blockchain technology in online casinos requires significant financial investment, strengthening data protection mechanisms, and addressing money laundering concerns. Currently, the process poses numerous challenges. However, there may be solutions on the horizon, and it remains to be seen what the future holds for Italian gamblers. It is possible that ADM may revise its requirements and eventually allow the use of cryptocurrencies in casinos.

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