Bitcoins sparked an intriguing debate in Spain recently, on whether it should be regarded as a legal tender or not. The debate was triggered by a Spanish law firm Abanlex which consulted the Spanish Treasury seeking an opinion on whether Bitcoin and other cybercurrencies are considered money and should online operators using these cybercurrencies fall under the national gambling regulations. If this is correct, the online gambling operators should therefore pay the appropriate fees and taxes.
In its response, the Treasury implies that cybercurrencies are treated as legal tender, because it opines that gambling is taking place using the cybercurrency, and therefore licensing is required
The Treasury advised:
"Ultimately, the bitcoin is a convertible virtual currency that can be exchanged between users and, likewise, be converted into dollars, euros, or other currencies both real and virtual.
"The activity of betting with bitcoins is considered to be included within the definition of bets, [and] it is therefore mandatory to obtain the general betting licence and the corresponding singular license."
After getting the response, Abanlex highlighted the ambivalence of the Treasury’s response, pointing out that if Bitcoin is considered as money under the Spanish gambling laws then other laws must take this into consideration.
If put into effect, players wishing to remain anonymous, would be discouraged from using Bitcoin, although states like the Spanish government would be eager to have tax Bitcoin’s revenues.
The debate may not end any time soon as Bitcoin popularity grows in variety of industries and the Bitcoin automatic teller machines are soon to be reality.