At the consumer-protection level, again in theory, gambling-style regulation could also be a boon. Sports teams wouldn’t be able to chase crypto sponsorships as an alternative to advertising for bookmakers. Crypto businesses would have new responsibilities regarding problem and under-age gamblers, on top of tax evasion and money laundering. Advertisers might have to publicize estimates that as many as 81% of users piling into Bitcoin between 2015 and 2022 lost money. As one recovering crypto addict told the Guardian last year: “Trading is gambling, there’s no doubt about it.”
But in practice, re-labeling crypto might trade one set of problems for another. The implication is that the $1.2 trillion crypto industry would find itself on a tighter regulatory leash, but the reality of enforcement tells a different story. The UK’s Gambling Commission, for example, has about 300 employees, or around one-tenth the staff of the Financial Conduct Authority — which itself has had its work cut out dealing with everything from exchanges such as Binance to crypto ATMs. The history of gambling regulation in the UK is also littered with regulatory capture and consumer-protection failures, even if today it’s making a serious attempt at turning over a new leaf.
‘Enforcement 40’ for 2020
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