Crypto retail trading should be regulated as gambling: UK lawmakers

The trading of so-called “unbacked cryptoassets” such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) should be regulated as gambling rather than a financial service, a panel of British lawmakers said in a new report. 

The United Kingdom is currently working on a crypto regulatory framework that would mix existing financial asset laws with new crypto-specific rules.

However, in a May 17 House of Commons Committee report, the U.K. Treasury Committee “strongly recommended” regulating retail crypto trading and investment activity as gambling, consistent with the principle of “same risk, same regulatory outcome.”

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We’ve just published our report on cryptoassets, setting out our recommendations for the Government’s approach to regulating this market.

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— Treasury Committee (@CommonsTreasury) May 16, 2023

It argued the price volatility and lack of intrinsic value mean unbacked crypto assets will “inevitably pose significant risks to consumers.”

Treasury Committee Chair Harriett Baldwin described Bitcoin and Ether as accounting for two-thirds of the total market capitalization of crypto assets, both of which she claimed are “unbacked.”

“We are concerned that regulating retail trading and investment activity in unbacked cryptoassets as a financial service will create a ‘halo’ effect that leads consumers to believe that this activity is safer than it is, or protected when it is not.”

In the U.K., all gambling — whether online or land-based — is regulated by the Gambling Commission under the Gambling Act 2005. Its oversight includes businesses such as bingo halls, lotteries, betting shops, online betting companies and casinos, with the aim to prevent problem gambling and apply Anti-Money Laundering safeguards.

Graph used by the Committee as evidence of crypto’s volatility. Source: Yahoo Finance, U.K. Parliament

In its arguments, the lawmakers referred to written statements from Dr. Larisa Yarovaya, an associate professor from the University of Southhampton, who said crypto exchanges, online trading…



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