Grey market businesses are intriguing. Where you're not sure whether operations are legal or not, due to lack of legislation.
Take ticket scalping. There weren't any laws on it for the longest time, then some came on the books. "Don't do that anymore", they seemed to say.
StubHub (eBay) popped up with a million lawyers. If you look on there, it kind of seems like more people are hustling tickets than ever.
Ticket scalping is a grey market because of neglect. You also get them when there are technologies emerging faster than the law can keep up with.
When Bitcoin was over $1000/unit for the first time and getting a lot of press, the legal ambiguity became apparent. And Americans had to wonder, as they traded BTC, whether this was really sanctioned by the government.
It's gotten to the point where the U.S. recognizes and allows cryptocurrencies. What about gaming sites that deal in them? Are those legal?
It's unclear, possibly varying by state. Nevada went after Bryan Micon over Seals with Clubs. There was some arguing in California over crypto gambling parlors. But those are areas where there's a lot of gaming laws on the books.
Say someone's in Wyoming. They run a Bitcoin gaming site, have a good accountant who's versed in cryptocurrencies, a lawyer who legally describes the site as dealing in "virtual currency", and they pay all their taxes.
Realistically I don't think anyone's coming after this person. Especially if they never directly convert Bitcoin to dollars.
A number of remote BTC casinos like SatoshiBet have disallowed American players. Who knows where they're based. Blocking U.S. players from gambling in Bitcoin is a "better safe than sorry" move, because of how cloudy the law is here.
Personally, I lean towards this not being legal. Later in the post I'll elaborate on why I no longer shout the virtues of crypto-gaming from the rooftops.
Robot Sex Houses
I have little doubt these are on the horizon. It'll probably play out like:
Buying a personal sex bot, at least a super realistic model, might cost thousands. So these robot sex houses (robrothels?) will pop up. People will schedule appointments online, it'll be $50/hour or something.
And then patrons get the benefits of (a) having a choice amongst different-looking robots and (b) professional cleaning of the units between appointments.
Sex robots in 2020 or whenever will be as lucrative as porn in 1999.
I'm leaning towards these being legal in the U.S. after an initial period of uncertainty.
Super Fast Food
The only reason I'd call this 'grey market' is there will be a huge backlash to begin with - people suing McDonald's. Fast food workers being laid off.
McDonald's and similar firms have been suspiciously quiet about the $15/hr New York fast food law. They could've responded with legal action.
But I'll bet they don't care. Because by the time they'd have to pay their people that much, two-thirds of those workers will be laid off. The rest will be robot overseers.
Plus is being heavily experimented with in Australia. That's largely considered a test market for the U.S. by fast food firms because (a) it's English-speaking and (b) it's isolated. Americans hear nothing about Australia.
Should you involve yourself with a grey market business?
Suffice to say you can infer where I stand on this. I more or less gave up on a dream, as it became seriously questionable whether carrying it out would be legal.
Are crypto-casinos legal in the U.S.?
What about robot sex houses (robrothels)?
I don't know. You probably wouldn't find out for sure until you're being charged with something, and your assets are being seized.
At that point the virtues of your technology don't matter.
If you're going to take the time to build a business, don't do it on an unstable foundation. There'll be a lot of stress over the possibility of collapse.
A year ago, when I set out to build the Ging Casino platform, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were taken less seriously. The IRS had just put out something that basically called it digital property, like an MP3 file.
Since then a series of events (i.e. Nevada going after Micon) made me uneasy about continuing development. I've been busy with a ton of unrelated work, regardless.
I was never secretive about what I was doing - it was prominently on my LinkedIn for a long time. The legality wasn't as ((questionable syn)) when I started.
Ultimately, the project honed my technical skills a lot. The scope was huge and probably over-ambitious. But I've since distanced myself. It's been about a year - now it's to rest.
Had I opened the site, there would've been a lot of looking over my shoulder and wondering. Not to mention fixation on the BTC/USD prices.
If we don't have integrity, what do we have? Today's doings are tomorrow's fate.