Failed Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox officially threw in the towel this week, filing for liquidation in a Tokyo court. The former number one Bitcoin exchange went dark in February, filing for bankruptcy protection after either a software glitch or blatant mismanagement or some combination of the two resulted in thousands of customers losing hundreds of thousands of Bitcoins. The liquidation filing makes it even less likely that these customers will ever be reunited with their missing digital ducats.
Earlier in the week, Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles announced he had no intention of traveling to the United States to testify in a class action suit brought against the exchange. Suspicion is high that Karpeles feared being arrested the minute he stepped off the plane in connection with the US government’s ongoing prosecution of individuals connected with the Silk Road ‘black market eBay’ site. This week saw Bitinstant CEO Charlie Shrem indicted on charges of money laundering and failing to file suspicious activity reports regarding transactions by US citizens with the Silk Road site. The 24-year-old Shrem and co-accused Robert Faiella were arrested in January.
In more Bitcoin hiccups, online gambling firm Vera&John has suspended its Bitcoin payment option, reportedly at the request of its Malta licensing body. In January, Vera&John had proudly proclaimed themselves the first mainstream regulated online gambling site to offer deposits and withdrawals in Bitcoin. Now, following discussions with Malta’s Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA), Vera&John have agreed to curtail its Bitcoin option “until a regulatory framework is in place.”
As Vera&John exit the stage, another Bitcoin-only site emerges to pick up the torch. Bitstars.net is run by “an experienced team of iGaming boffins” and offers poker, slots, roulette, blackjack, baccarat and other table games. (In what will likely generate some confusion, Bitstars.com belongs to a German augmented reality firm.) As with other Bitcoin casinos, Bitstars offers “provably fair” games, instant cashouts and no transaction fees. Bitstars’ other selling point is its respect for users’ privacy, requiring only an email and password combo to get started.
Finally, SatoshiPoker.org founder Bart van Oort is currently conducting an auction of his site’s domain, software and all accounts to the highest bidder. The site, which has been in operation for one year, boasts a total of 4,648 registered players and generated total rake of BTC 98.4 in the eight months it was operational last year and a further BTC 7.6 so far this year. Van Oort announced the auction via the BitcoinTalk forum, saying he no longer had “the time or personal stability” to realize the site’s full potential. Van Oort acknowledged that the site wasn’t exactly raking it in (pardon the pun), but said it provided “a solid foundation for anybody aspiring to run a Bitcoin poker site.”