Crypto betting via Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP fuel illegal gambling in Asia

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The acceptance of major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and XRP on gambling sites is part of the reason illegal online gambling is on the rise in Asia, a report of the Asian Racing Federation (ARF) said earlier this week.

Macau is famous’junkets‘—The companies that act as middlemen for the big Chinese players who account for half of the city’s gambling revenues — would use cryptocurrencies to transfer money without detection in order to relocate “criminal proceeds” from their gambling operations. illegal betting.

Online betting sites, such as sports, racing, esports, and games, are a very lucrative industry and handle billions of dollars in bets every month. Much of these were fueled by trust networks like Skrill and Neteller in the past, but the popularity of cryptocurrencies seems to have incorporated new entrants.

“International law enforcement and anti-money laundering agencies have pointed out that blockchain and cryptocurrencies facilitate illicit activities, including illegal betting and money laundering,” the ARF in its quarterly newsletter. He added that the numbers had increased sevenfold since 2018.

Bitcoin, XRP and others used

According to the report, Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market cap, is now accepted on more than 127 offshore sports betting websites and 284 online casinos. In addition, 780 “offshore” websites accept one or more of the five largest cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and XRP.

These sites have been visited by a total of 229 million users since 2018, of which 23% are from places in Asia where online betting and gambling remains an illegal or restricted activity, such as India, Thailand, South Korea, China, Australia and Hong Kong.

Betting sites using cryptocurrency were also found to employ “agents” who actively promote the sites through social media networks such as Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram to Asian users.

The ARF has observed and warned that illegal operators are significantly faster to adopt and adapt to new technologies, posing a threat to otherwise regulated betting jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, reports come on the back of similar concerns voiced by the Hong Kong Jockey Club last month. The head of the popular horse racing association said sites accepting cryptocurrency were not subject to strict regulations, leading to suspicious betting and corruption.

“Let’s be clear – the biggest threat to the integrity of racing betting are the jockeys and trainers who prevent horses from winning and betting on them to lose in the illegal market,” said Tom Chignell, head of race. integrity and analysis of the club’s races at the time.

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