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Las Vegas attorneys watchful over Bitcoin ATM development

January 4, 2014

Robocoin is the Las Vegas based company planning to set up Bitcoin ATMs in Seattle and Austin, Texas, despite some unease about the currency’s legitimacy and, well, safety. The American Bar Association Journal’s questions into whether Bitcoin ATMs are legal remains unanswered for now, but that’s not stopping Robocoin from taking the plunge and getting things going in Washington and Texas as Las Vegas attorneys eye the situation from its potential legal consequences in the future.

Bitcoin has had “popular success” since it began circulating on the cyber-market some years ago. With some ups and downs in determining its stability as a currency, Bitcoin seems now to be being exchanged with some stability. Las Vegas attorneys, however probably come back to the distrust that U.S. regulators have around the money-laundering capabilities of Bitcoin’s unregulated status before jumping on the Bitcoin bandwagon, as Robocoin seems to have.

Bitcoin’s potential for undermining the government are real, which is probably why it’s appealing to many of its fans. The Silk Road, a website seized and shut down by the federal government for its alleged $1.2 billion in illegal drug sales, is a perfect example of Bitcoin’s ability to fly “under the RADAR.” In the Silk Road case, the feds confiscated more than 600,000 bitcoins—equal to about $80 million. And because the customers were knowingly using the website to engage in purchase of illicit goods, they forego the right to seek restitution, Las Vegas attorneys point out.

But bitcoins aren’t only for drug money. Some libertarians espouse Bitcoin precisely for its being slippery when it comes to the cumbersome financial regulations that don’t provide a clear path to compliance with the banking industry. Robocoin seems to be of the same mind with its ATM plans. Already having established a Bitcoin ATM in Vancouver, British Columbia, the Las Vegas based company is looking to expand ATMs overseas to Europe and Asia as well as stateside. Las Vegas attorneys investigating the legality of the ATMs find nothing awry…yet.

Set up to verify customer’s identities by driver’s license or passport, the ATMs will allow customers to sell bitcoins for cash or purchase them one the spot using a smartphone. Fractions of bitcoins will also be available for purchase, especially since the value of one bitcoin is approximately $636. In December, its value was nearer to $1,000.

The wild fluctuations in the value of the bitcoins have to do with the way it’s unregulated. The crypto-currency is backed only by users’ agreement that is has value on the open market—as well as the willingness of businesses, merchants, and service providers like some law firms, casinos, and hotels to accept Bitcoin payment.

U.S. regulators are still “getting their head around Bitcoin, and the Internal Revenue Service isn’t sure how to treat it” either. And until then, it will most likely remain somewhat outside the law. And Bitcoin’s own general counsel Patrick Murck seems pretty sure that Bitcoin will be increasingly accepted and successful in the future as a “global regulatory structure” figures out how to deal with it gets established.

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