There is now the very real possibility that Bitcoin could be regulated by government bodies, due to the fact that a Federal judge made a ruling which stated Bitcoin was a real currency. United States Magistrate Judge Amos Mazzant last week ruled that the US Securities and Exchange Commission may proceed with their lawsuit against the operator of a Bitcoin hedge fund because that although the currency may only exist digitally “Bitcoin is a currency or form of money.”
Last year Trendon Shavers of Bitcoin Savings Trust was accused of scamming his customers of almost $4.5 million in Bitcoins. Using his online hedge fund, Shavers promised high percentage returns on investments and after collecting 700,000 Bitcoins he shut down his site. When charged, Shavers retorted with Bitcoin was not a real currency and it can't be regulated. The question was put to Judge Mazzant as to whether or not Shavers could be prosecuted as the SEC argued that Bitcoin can be classed as a form of securities and therefore Shavers can be charged. Judge Mazzant's decision could have widespread repercussions when he wrote that, “It is clear that Bitcoin can be used as money, It can be used to purchase goods or services, and as Shavers stated, used to pay for individual living expenses. The only limitation of Bitcoin is that it is limited to those places that accept it as currency. However, it can also be exchanged for conventional currencies, such as the US dollar, Euro, Yen and Yuan. Therefore, Bitcoin is a currency or form of money, and investors wishing to invest in BTCST provided an investment of money.”
This not only means that the Securities Exchange Commission can go ahead with their prosecution but it also means that Mazzant's ruling will most likely lead to a fast track approach to the regulation of Bitcoin by the US government. The implications of this to online gaming are unknown at present. Will it wipe out its use before it's really got going or will it in fact become more widespread? On that one, we'll have to wait and see.
The US online poker room Americas Cardroom now accepts deposits in Bitcoin and it's growing in popularity with many players. Once the deposit has been made then the digital currency is converted into USD for use at the tables.