Category Archives: Virtual Currency

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CFTC Issues Primer on Virtual Currency, Virtual Tokens and ICOs

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s LabCFTC recently released, “A CFTC Primer on Virtual Currencies.” This primer provides an overview of virtual currencies and their potential use-cases, helps outline the CFTC’s role and oversight of virtual currencies, and cautions investors and users of the potential risks involved with virtual currencies.… Continue Reading

Are Loot Boxes An Illegal Gambling Mechanic?

A member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament has opened an inquiry into the legality of loot boxes. Loot boxes are virtual items that may be redeemed to receive a randomized selection of additional virtual items. Various countries around the world have recently moved to regulate the provision of loot boxes in video games, often in response to … Continue Reading

China Halts ICOs

China has put a halt to Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) in China. In a recent notice, China declared ICOs to be an illegal fund raising tool and indicated it is reviewing previous ICOs for possible fraudulent practices. Money previously raised will also have to be returned. It is unclear yet whether this will be a … Continue Reading

SEC Issues Warning on Certain ICOs

As the number and dollar volume of Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) continue to increase, the SEC has taken a greater interest in this activity. As we previously reported, the SEC issued its initial ICO guidance on July 25, 2017. In this guidance it declared that depending on the facts and circumstances, an ICO offering may … Continue Reading

Nevada Passes Pro-blockchain Law

Nevada has passed a pro-blockchain law that recognizes blockchain technology as a type of electronic record for the purposes of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act and prohibits taxation and regulations regarding the use and implementation of blockchain technology.… Continue Reading

The Game Goes On: Sheppard Mullin Obtains Dismissal With Prejudice of Class Action Alleging Social Gaming Micro-transactions Constitute Illegal Gambling

Another lawsuit alleging illegal gambling in a social game has been dismissed.  Over the last year, social gaming mobile applications have come under attack from the Plaintiffs’ bar as gambling in disguise.  Plaintiffs’ attorneys theorize that in-app micro-transactions where consumers pay cash for virtual items (i.e., gold coins or gems) designed to speed up or … Continue Reading

Another Gambling Class Action Fails – Court Finds Social Casino Games Not Gambling

A Federal Court in Washington state dismissed a Plaintiff’s class action claims that social casino games using purchasable virtual casino chips  constitute gambling under Washington state law. The Court found that the virtual chips have no “value” and therefore the game did not constitute gambling because Plaintiff was not “staking or risking something of value.”… Continue Reading

Court Rules Virtual Currency Casino Not Illegal Gambling Despite Secondary Market

A Maryland Court recently dismissed a case in which Plaintiff alleged that a virtual currency casino within a social game constituted illegal gambling, despite the existence of a secondary market for the player accounts. For purposes of assessing whether the game was skill or chance-based game, the Court found that the social game, as a … Continue Reading

California Repeals Prohibition on Use of Alternative Currencies

From pet grooming services paid with currencies backed by aggregated gift cards to coffee shops in Palo Alto and San Francisco that accept digital currencies for a latte, many Californians are completing everyday transactions with digital currencies.  Community currencies (such as currencies “created by members of a community in conjunction with merchants who agree to … Continue Reading

IRS Says Bitcoin Isn’t Money

On March 25, 2014 the IRS issued Notice 2014-21, which describes how the IRS will interpret existing general tax principles to apply to transactions using “virtual currencies” such as Bitcoin. This Notice is the most recent in a line of similar regulatory pronouncements issued by several governmental actors such as the Government Accountability Office’s report … Continue Reading

Bitcoins and Liability in the Wake of Recent Silk Road Arrests

Last week’s arrests[1] of Robert Faiella, an alleged seller on online marketplace Silk Road, and Charlie Shrem, the CEO of the startup BitInstant, marked a recent round in a series of law enforcement actions against what the government characterizes as a “rise in criminal activity”[2] by people using the cryptographically-controlled digital currency, Bitcoin.[3]  The arrests of … Continue Reading

Making Sense of Virtual Dollars

Financial institutions and currency transactions are highly regulated in the United States. That much is common knowledge. However, game developers may not realize that by creating a system of virtual currency within a game that can be purchased with or redeemed for real currency, they could be opening themselves up to legal issues arising from this morass … Continue Reading
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