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Getting to know cryptocurrency

Koror—Palau While Guam, CNMI and the Republic of the Marshall Islands have embraced cryptocurrency, Palau is cautious about welcoming it with open arms and for good reason. What could be a promising technology has been tainted by a suspicious company which offers to combine online gambling and cryptocurrency, with the island nation as the launching pad for this purported industry. It also claims to have a plan to build a brick-and-mortar casino in Palau. Casino is illegal in Palau. However, there is no law in Palau that deals with online gambling, leaving a loophole that may allow virtual casino operation.

Online publications dedicated to cryptocurrency published several articles regarding the supposed casino project in Palau planned by a certain RA Entertainment Inc. In a white paper published on its website, RA Entertainment discussed a comprehensive plan to build “Palau World, a deluxe casino and hotel resort that will soon open on Ngerekebesang Hamlet.” It is touted as “a massive complex that will rival that of Macau,” the gambling capital in Asia, and will offer Palau visitors of Palau “superior benefits during their stay” via “RAcoin.” The article claimed the casino and hotel would open in late 2018 or early 2019.

Palau officials dismissed the company’s claims as a scam. Finance Minister Elbuchel Sadang said that due to the absence of a regulatory law, Palau is not ready to embrace RAcoin, or any form of cryptocurrency or gambling.

Casino remains illegal in Palau, where voters have twice rejected casino gambling in the country. Sadang said although it might be true that the company has purchased a piece of land in Palau, he doubts that RA Entertainment will build a casino.

Sadang said he is aware that as early as April, RA Entertainment has been building hype about launching such a project in Palau.

In May, RA Entertainment sent a representative to Palau to meet with Sadang and in the following days, the company issued a press release claiming Palau was looking into collaborating with the company involving blockchain technology and the cryptocurrency industry. The press release was accompanied by a photo showing Sadang shaking hands with Yuliya Chashchina, director of International Affairs and a representative of RA Entertainment Inc. in Palau. The press release claimed that Palau was “willing to deliver full support to the RA Entertainment Inc.”

“I have asked RAcoin Entertainment to delete or correct their statement as Palau is not ready to entertain such business without legislation in place,” Sadang said in an email response to an article published online.

Sadang said Palau is still jittery about the cryptocurrency industry and the lack of education about the technology. “We don’t know what it is all about and what benefits it will bring. Plus we don’t have law and enforcement in place for it,” Sadang said.

The RA Entertainment article stated, “Palau reckons that blockchain technology and fintech can greatly contribute to the economic development of the country.”

Sadang, however, did not discount the possibility of embracing cryptocurrency but said the specific proposal from RA Entertainment is not something Palau is keen on supporting.

While Palau government remains generally ambivalent, the House of Delegates is not closing its doors on cryptocurrency. In this month’s session, the House is set to entertain a piece of legislation on cryptocurrency regulation, Speaker Sabino Anastacio said .

The growth of virtual currency market, Anastacio said, prompted lawmakers to consider discussing how Palau would treat cryptocurrency.

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