Popular bitcoin gambling site SatoshiBet has announced that it will now restrict US customers from accessing its platform.
In its announcement posted on Reddit, SatoshiBet cited both the uncertain future of online gambling regulation in the US and future legal problems that could result from servicing American customers.
The move comes amid a tightening legal environment for companies that offer bitcoin-denominated gaming and gambling. Last month, a move by the Spanish government to deem bitcoin an electronic payment system resulted in bitcoin gambling site operators needing to obtain licensure.
SatoshiBet said its legal team advised it to avoid the US market entirely to reduce potential legal exposure, adding:
“This does not mean SatoshiBet or gambling with or without cryptocurrencies is illegal in the US. The definition by US courts is as of yet highly unclear, adding cryptocurrencies to the equation only further clouds a definite judgement.”
SatoshiBet founder Adrian Scholz told CoinDesk that any US customers who had funds deposited on the site at the time of the lockout should contact the company for instructions on how to receive funds.
A proactive move
In its announcement, SatoshiBet stressed that the move is unrelated to any government action or investigation. Rather, the company said, it is looking to stave off any potential future conflict given its past activity in the US market.
The company explained:
“To be clear, we have not been in contact with any government institutions, this is solely a proactive measure as a reaction to the fast moving regulatory landscape of cryptocurrencies.”
SatoshiBet added that it has never handled any currencies other than bitcoin, ostensibly in an effort to distance itself from any action that could make the company run afoul of money transmission regulations in the US.
Customer funds accessible
The move will also likely affect the popularity of the website, as Scholz told CoinDesk that roughly 20% of its traffic comes from sources in the US.
Still, he indicated that the company is seeking to end its involvement with customers responsibly. He said all balances belonging to US customers will be returned upon request, saying:
“All existing US players will get their remaining balance if any returned. Most players deposit/play/withdraw, so the total amount that needs to be returned is fairly reasonable.”
He added that SatoshiBet could one day return to the US market, but such a move would only happen if enough legal security is established in the future.
“We of course hope that at some point in time sufficient clarity is established by lawmakers, that perhaps allows us to reenter the market,” Scholz said.