Cleveland Heights’ Bitcoin Boulevard is home to a strip of businesses that look to create a small bitcoin sustained business district. One Ohio business owner, Brian Benchmark, decided to join other locals in turning his pub into a bitcoin accepting business. Unsure if his pub, the BottleHouse Brewing Co., could accept bitcoin or not, Benchmark asked the Ohio Department of Public Safety for a ruling on the matter.
Ohio Department of Public Safety
Their answer to his request was ‘No’.
Benchmark’s request asked the department if beer, wine and liquor could be sold in the digital currency. Ohio’s ruling coincides with other states that allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in bitcoin.
For example, California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control had no issue with allowing the sale of alcohol for bitcoin. It seems as though Ohio regulators have yet to wrap their heads around bitcoin.
Benchmark feels that the IRS’ ruling over bitcoin being a property rather than a currency may have influenced the public safety officials decision. He stated:
“When I first went to them, they honestly had no idea what bitcoin was.” Benchmark went on to say that the Ohio regulators “tend to be people that are maybe a little bit older and not hip to the world of technology.”
The department of public safety did not return any emails or calls to explain their decision, but they did state that alcohol “cannot be accepted as payment for alcohol in the State of Ohio.” However, Public Safety Agent Eric Wolf did say that due to bitcoin’s volatility, it was not considered to be currency.
Benchmark feels cheated out of a great business opportunity, and frustrated even more so, as an answer as to why bitcoin could not be used specifically for alcohol within his home state was not provided. His intentions were to convert earned bitcoin’s into cash using Georgia-based payment processor, Bitpay. Benchmark ended with:
“This is just another one of these ridiculous regulations that have no basis in reality and don’t serve any purpose as far as public safety is concerned. I don’t see the difference between using credit card and using this.”
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