Italy is known for pizza, spaghetti and, unfortunately, for its mafia. The mafia is a criminal world that controls the Italian drugs trade, prostitution, gambling and other illegal activities.
Of course, all the money received from those illegal activities has to be laundered and it seems that the mafia has started to use Bitcoin for this task. At least this is what was suggested by the Italian Senator from the Democratic Party (Pd), Lucrezia Ricchiuti.
As was originally reported by the magazine PressGiochi, the Italian mafia might start using Bitcoin to facilitate the development of its gambling activities.
She stated: "According to research conducted by the Ufficio delle Informazioni Finanziarie (FIU) it is possible to open a gaming site based on Bitcoin in a short time, operating in the absence of controls and in complete anonymity.”
“This means we need more and more effort to refine strategies to avoid the situation when the virtual currencies could hide Italian mafia members and help their money laundering.”
50 percent of Bitcoin transactions are related to gambling
According to the data provided by The Bitcoin Strip, the total bets amounted to $9.71 bln for the last six months prior to Feb. 24, 2017, with the average bet size of 0.00014842 BTC.
50 percent of the total Bitcoin transactions are linked to gambling activities, some experts say.
Recently, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) commented that any digital currency is an equivalent to fiat money and, therefore, allowed any regulated casino to accept Bitcoin and other digital currencies.
On Oct. 31, 2016, the UKGC published its updated License Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) that explained:
“Licensees are told that they must “implement appropriate policies and procedures concerning the usage of cash and cash equivalents (eg bankers drafts, cheques and debit cards and digital currencies) by customers”.”
Is stronger Bitcoin regulation the answer?
According to Ricchiuti’s statement, governments hold no factual evidence to link the Italian mafia to the actual use of Bitcoin in its illegal activities, but it is a possibility to evaluate and, therefore, they want to eliminate the problem at its root, probably introducing stronger Bitcoin regulation.
But could this be an effective answer to the problem?
Regulating or being afraid of something because it could be used by criminals is like blaming fiat currencies because they are used to buy drugs or weapons. Paradoxically, in this sense, the barter system itself could be feared.
Сash money and Bitcoin have a few characteristics in common, especially if you consider their anonymity. In certain countries, the government is trying to put limits on the usage of cash, but this policy raises many questions.
Mafia existed before Bitcoin
Italian Developer Mattia Pintus comments:
“The problem of Mafia in Italy, as in the rest of the world, existed well before Bitcoin.
Therefore, it would be incorrect to blame everything on Bitcoin, according to journalistic and political conveniences, ignoring the problem itself.”
“In Italy, it’s mostly unhealthy information in this respect, particularly from newspapers that have conflicts of interests, both of the political and economic kind. It would be better and absolutely more constructive, rather, to focus on the positive social as well as economic aspects that the adoption and regulation of Bitcoin could bring to the everyday use by people.”
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