Buying Alcohol with Bitcoin is Legal in California, Official Says

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) has given the green-light for bars and other alcohol-serving establishments and allowed them to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment.

The announcement by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control came in the light of the State of Ohio banning the use of Bitcoin for alcohol sales. Photo: Pavel Ganebný/Flickr

The announcement by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control came in the light of the State of Ohio banning the use of Bitcoin for alcohol sales. Photo: Pavel Ganebný/Flickr

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) has allowed  bars and other alcohol-serving places to implement bitcoin form of payment.

It was firstly reported by Wired that the state’s alcohol regulator did not think any state laws were violated by such purchases.

However, less than a week ago Ohio Department of Public Safety announced that it had banned the use of bitcoin for alcohol sales in that state. It became the first US government that made such explicit move moreover the action was completely criticized among digital currency community members.

John Carr, the ABC’s information officer, told CoinDesk that the idea to accept bitcoin payments is legal under California law.

Mr. Carr said: “Bitcoin can be accepted if a bar, restaurant or liquor store or place that sells alcoholic beverages, wishes to accept it. That’s their business decision.”

State Laws Lead to Differing Decisions

Ohio state released its announcement coming right after requests for clarity from those merchants who  participate in Bitcoin Boulevard US, a project that will find a group of Cleveland, Ohio, merchants implementing bitcoin as as one of the ways to broad their promotion.

Furthermore, the state mentioned that its Liquor Control Law says that  the ‘payment of money’ must be part of any alcohol purchase and only because the law does not have the word ‘currency’ instead of ‘money’, the bitcoin sales cant be accepted.

The ABC, by contrast, framed the choice of accepting bitcoin as a form of payment as a decision left to the businesses themselves.

Carr explained: “If it’s a recognized form of currency by the business and they’re willing to accept that as a consideration for a point-of-sale, that’s a decision they can make.”

California’s Growing Bitcoin Economy

However, the California state government is still looking at and deciding upon its regulatory views regarding bitcoin.

The California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) issued a new release  earlier this month which warned investors and consumers about the potential downsides of investing in virtual currency.

Moreover, California State Assembly is making an effort to broaden the definition of “lawful money” tо include digital currencies like bitcoin. At first it was mentioned by Roger Dickinson, California Assemblyman, who had an interview with CoinDesk in March.

Some of the bitcoin companies and startups are based in the state of California. The most popular ones are Coinbase and Kraken.

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