The intersection of blockchain and iGaming is such an exciting space, so exciting there are VIP parties dedicated to the niche in order to spread the word. Isle of Man (IOM) is in the process of positioning itself at the epicenter of blockchain and iGaming, kicking off with the opening of their brand new Blockchain Office this spring, part sandbox and part consultancy scheme.
“We’ve been looking at blockchain and cryptocurrencies for quite a few years and had involvement in it. We’re getting more and more approaches about wanting [blockchain] to be a regulated market, so we’re having a look at what [blockchain businesses] actually want regulated and how they want to be regulated,” explained Tony Ure, Head of eGaming for Isle of Man Digital Agency.
“So we went through a workshop of what the requirements are, we’ve seen a lot of these guys come through and they’re very technically gifted, they can create really, really wild things that we can’t actually understand half of it, but they’re not very business savvy,” he said.
“They don’t have the arrangements around it to help build businesses with banking, lawyers, technical support. This is where the concept of the Blockchain Office came up, to actually support these guys and help them evolve and help evolve their platforms in a regulated direction so the actual FSA (IOM Financial Services Authority) would be able to regulate that vehicle and regulate future reiterations of it,” he added.
“The best part of the blockchain office and the sandbox is to give the experience of the blockchain community we have on the island, to help these guys come in and develop their own businesses and entrepreneurial ideas,” Ure said.
So why should the online gambling industry care? Isle of Man is a well-respected regulator of online gambling companies – with a recent announcement of a software license per request of the industry, now the industry is seeking guidance and regulation from IOM on use of cryptocurrency and blockchain in their businesses.
“We’ve seen a lot of combinations recently where [gaming companies] are using token-based or blockchain-based tokens for their casino game in online gaming. There’s a natural fit of how do you regulate the blockchain and the ICO side of it and the tokens and the online casino uses, of what is really a chip-based coin, has a lot of possibilities,” Ure shared.
“We wanted to be able to regulate something to give the companies confidence in that they knew we’d done the due diligence on it, serious backing, serious business and white paper. And then you have guys who are running companies who know what they are doing, so it gives comfort to the operators as well,” he said.
Blockchain entrepreneurs and iGaming companies wishing to utilize blockchain have options of where to base their businesses and seek regulatory stamps of approval. Ure explained why IOM provides a unique opportunity for both parties.
“We have this reputation where nobody has gone bust and lost the players funds, we’ve always protected the players’ money from the offset and made sure the game is fair, and you’re looking for a jurisdiction where you can sandbox,” he said.
“We’d rather be a fast follower and get it right than be the first-mover and go in there and take everybody under the sun. We’re looking for high quality blockchain businesses, high quality companies, we want to create an environment where they can grow and these guys will drive what’s going to happen in the future,” Ure explained.
“It will be like the internet at the start – only entrepreneurs decide how the internet would evolve, these guys will decide how blockchain will evolve. We’ve set up with the regulators – we’ve got very pragmatic regulators – to look at how we can move this forward, because nobody can say what the applications are going to be in three years’ time, but its going to be exciting,” he added.
At present there are a number of blockchains and coins in existence, an ecosystem that simply cannot sustain itself over the course of time. While we at CalvinAyre.com believe Bitcoin SV will prevail as the “all in one” coin, Ure did not reveal a preference for any coin in particular, yet predicts only a handful of the existing coins will survive based on their utility.
“We’re looking at the uses for the coins, obviously like you say there are a lot of coins out there, I think in a year or two there will be very few left. A lot of companies are coming in with a proposition for just developing a coin just for their own casino and there’s the companies who are developing coins that can be used across various different platforms that will probably succeed better because then they have a viable use for the coins,” Ure shared.
“We want to try to do away with people just coming in and using the coins just to generate revenues and get back out, so its very much the cause and why you want to use [the coin] and the applications of it. It’s going to be very compacted, I don’t think it will be 1,400 odd coins around in a years’ time, a handful who have succeeded and who had the best business cases,” he added.