The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) has given the green-light for bars and other alcohol-serving establishments to accept bitcoin as a form of payment.
Wired first reported that the state’s alcohol regulator did not believe such purchases violated any state laws.
The news notably follows the announcement from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, which effectively banned the use of bitcoin for alcohol sales in that state earlier this week in a move that was roundly criticized in the digital currency community.
The ABC's information officer John Carr told CoinDesk that the decision to accept bitcoin - whether for alcohol or otherwise - is perfectly legal under California law.
State laws lead to differing decisions
Ohio released its announcement following requests for clarity from merchants participating in Bitcoin Boulevard US, a project that will find a number of Cleveland, Ohio, merchants accepting bitcoin as part of a wider promotion.
The state noted that its Liquor Control Law requires the ‘payment of money’ to be part of any alcohol purchase, and that because the law does not use the word ‘currency’, bitcoin sales are not allowed.
The ABC, by contrast, framed the choice of accepting bitcoin as a form of payment as a decision left to the businesses themselves.
California's growing bitcoin economy
However, the state government is still developing its regulatory views regarding bitcoin, and it remains to be seen how regulators and legislators will treat digital currencies in the future.
The California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) released a document earlier this month which warned investors and consumers about the potential dangers of digital currency.
California is home to a number of bitcoin companies and startups, including Coinbase and Kraken, among others.
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