Published On: Tue, Jun 10th, 2014

SA company gets license for betting virtual cash

Bitcoin+xxxCAPE TOWN, WILLEMSTAD - A Cape Town-based company has launched the world’s first licensed sports betting platform that uses bitcoins as its currency.

BetVIP obtained a gaming license in Curacao last week — which its founders expect will allow the sportsbook to stay "ahead of the curve", as governments move to establish laws to govern the unregulated virtual currency.

BetVIP founder Daniel Schwartz-kopff said the intangible currency — a concern for a number of states and regulators — allowed for instant deposits and payouts, whereas transfers using credit cards took time to clear and carried fees.

Bitcoins could also be transferred instantly around the world, while cross-border payments in traditional currencies required costly currency exchanges and Reserve Bank clearance. A handful of South African firms already accept bitcoins, including online fashion retailers, legal practices and computer retailers.

South Africans can buy the currency from exchanges such as, which yesterday quoted R6,520 per bitcoin. The coins can be stored on computers and other devices, or on online hosting sites.

BetVIP accepts minimum bets of 0.01 bitcoin (R65.20), Mr Schwartzkopff said on Monday.

"The volumes on the exchanges are definitely picking up," he said.

But BetVIP, which uses software from another Cape Town-based company, BetTech, is focusing mainly on markets such as China and Europe, where bitcoins are more widely used. BetVIP would not accept bets from the US, where sports betting was illegal, Mr Schwartzkopff said.

While BetVIP did not require a gaming license as it was operating in an unregulated market, he said, the license added legitimacy to the sportsbook and improved its long-term prospects.

"As bitcoin becomes more popular there will be moves to regulate the space, so we thought we would rather stay ahead of the curve."

Mr Schwartzkopff said BetVIP wanted to "help the growing movement of people that want to normalize the currency and bring it into everyday use". BetVIP offers pre-match and in-play wagers to online and mobile players.


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