Cryptocurrency & Law: A Comprehensive Overview of 50 States’ Guidance and Regulations on Blockchain and Digital Currency

As blockchain and cryptocurrency technology continues to emerge, so have U.S. states sought to address the technology within their borders. Below is a compiled list of the current issued guidance, regulation, or potential regulation for each of the 50 states.**


In May 2017, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law SB173/HB215, otherwise known as the “The Alabama Monetary Transmission Act.” This bill was drafted by the Alabama Securities Commission (ASC) in order to “adequately address modern technology” by replacing the Sale of Checks Act of 1961. This act “governs non-banking entities that engage in the business of selling, issuing or otherwise dispensing checks or transfers of money on behalf of individuals who may regularly use these services.” Businesses that are required to obtain a money transmitters license now include those dealing in virtual currencies.


Introduced in the House on March 14, 2017, HB 180 would define virtual currencies as “digital units of exchange that have a centralized repository…are decentralized, disruptive, open-source, math-based, peer-to-peer virtual currency with no central administering authority and no central monitoring or oversight.” If enacted, the bill would include businesses dealing in virtual currencies as potentially being considered a money transmitter or currency exchange business requiring a license.


Arizona passed HB 2417 on March 29, 2017, making signatures, electronic transactions, and contracts on a blockchain legally valid. As well, HB 2216, which makes it “unlawful to require a person to use or be subject to electronic firearm tracking technology” which would include a “shared ledger, distributed ledger, or blockchain technology,” passed on April 18, 2017. Governor Doug Ducey signed both these bills into law in April 2017.

A number of bills are currently being considered in the Arizona legislature. SB 1091 would allow for residents to pay their income tax in cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Litecoin, that would be recognized by the state of Arizona. SB 1145 would deal with the taxability of gains or losses from holders of cryptocurrency. Additionally, HB 2602 would stipulate “a city or town may not prohibit or otherwise restrict an individual from running a node on blockchain technology in a residence” and HB 2601 would provide a framework for “virtual coin offering” regulations within the state.


No known blockchain or cryptocurrency regulations or guidance issued at this time.


Passed and signed into law on June 27, 2016 by governor Jerry Brown, SB 843 establishes that “a raffle ticket shall not be sold in exchange for Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.” Introduced on February 15, 2018, AB 2658 would find an electronic signature lawful, would update the term “contract” to include “smart contracts,” and would establish that an individual who stores secure personal information on a blockchain in the course of carrying out interstate commerce would retain rights of ownership to their information. AB 2658 is currently awaiting committee referral.

There have been two failed attempts at creating a license, through a “Digital Currency Business Enrollment Program,” to conduct business related to “digital currency”  within the state. AB 1326 failed to pass committee on November of 2016 and the more recent attempt, AB 1123 failed on February 01, 2018 pursuant to a rule in the state’s constitution (Art. IV, Sec. 10(c)). Both of these failed bills would have enacted a “Virtual Currency Act” which would “prohibit a person from engaging in any virtual currency business, as defined, in this state unless the person is licensed by the Commissioner of Business Oversight.” The license requires applicants pay a nonrefundable fee of $5,000 dollars.


The Senate Appropriations Committee will soon review the current amended version of SB 86. If enacted, SB 86 would direct Colorado’s Chief Information Security Officer to “develop and maintain a series of metrics to identify, assess, and monitor each public agency data system for its platform descriptions, vulnerabilities, risks, liabilities, appropriate employee access control, and the benefits and costs of adopting encryption and distributed ledger technologies.”


In June 2015, Gov. Dannel Malloy signed into law HB 6800 which amends Connecticut’s Money Transmission Act by requiring any businesses that transmit virtual currency to obtain a license from the Department of Banking. He also signed into law HB 7141 on November 07, 2017 which stipulates that license holders “maintaining custody or control of virtual currency on behalf of another person shall at all times hold virtual currency of the same type and amount owed or obligated to such persons.”

A February 2018 Proposed Bill No. 5001 was referred to the Committee on Banking and would “impose a fee” on the “transfer or trade” of virtual currency in the state, if passed.


On May 02, 2016, then-Governor Jack Markell launched the Delaware Blockchain Initiative to “embrace the emerging blockchain and smart contract technology industry, which can help the public and enterprises lower their transactional costs, speed up and automate manual processes, and reduce fraud.”

The current Governor John Carney signed SB 69 into law on July 21, 2017 which is “intended to provide specific statutory authority for Delaware corporations” to use electronic databases, such as blockchain, “for the creation and maintenance of corporate records, including the corporation’s stock ledger.”


The state defines the term ‘virtual currency’ and prohibits the laundering of virtual currency in HB 1379, approved by Governor Rick Scott June 23, 2017. This law is viewed as a response to a decision by the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in the case of Florida v. Espinoza, which dismissed criminal information under the rational that virtual currencies where not “money” as defined by Florida’s Money Laundering Act. Introduced to the Florida legislature on January 08, 2018, HB 1357 would “implement protocols for issuing an optional electronic credential and procure a related technology solution.”


State regulators were given the power to create rules and regulations for all virtual currency businesses with the passage of HB 811, which Governor Nathan Deal signed on April 04, 2016.

SB 464, which was introduced, read, and referred to the Senate Finance Committee on February 21, 2018, would require the state revenue commissioner to accept, and immediately convert into US dollars, cryptocurrencies for payment of taxes and license fees, should it be enacted into law.


A memo issued by the Commissioner of Financial Institutions on February 26, 2014 makes clear that “no company is licensed to transmit bitcoin in Hawaii” and “if companies are offering to transmit bitcoins, they are doing so in violation of Hawaii’s money transmitter laws.”

Carried over to the 2018 session and pending in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, HB 1481 would establish a working group to study the uses and determine the best practices regarding blockchain technology. Two bills, SB 2853 and SB 3082, both introduced on January 24, 2018, would define virtual currency within the Money Transmitters Act and would provide additional rules for those engaged in money transmissions of virtual currencies.


No known blockchain or cryptocurrency regulations or guidance issued at this time.


The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued guidance regarding digital currencies on June 13, 2017 which specifies that “a person or entity engaged in the transmission of solely digital currencies, as defined, would not be required to obtain a TOMA [Transmitters of Money Act] license.”

On February 15, 2018, HB 5335 was introduced and would amend the Department of Revenue Law of the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois to allow for any tax to be paid in cryptocurrency. The bill was assigned to the House Revenue & Finance Committee on March 05, 2018.Re-referred to the House Rules Committee on September 28, 2017, HR 120 would establish the “Illinois Legislative Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Task Force” to study the potential benefit from a transition to blockchain based recordkeeping and service delivery.


No known blockchain or cryptocurrency regulations or guidance issued at this time.


No known blockchain or cryptocurrency regulations or guidance issued at this time.


The Office of the State Bank Commissioner issued guidance regarding the “Regulatory Treatment of Virtual Currencies Under the Kansas Money Transmitter Act” on June 06, 2014 which specifies that “an entity engaged solely in the transmission of such [virtual] currency would not be required to obtain a license in the State of Kansas.”


No known blockchain or cryptocurrency regulations or guidance issued at this time.


No known blockchain or cryptocurrency regulations or guidance issued at this time.


An attempt was made through SB 950 to study the use of blockchain technology in conjunction with paper elections. The bill failed in April 2017.


While Maryland does not regulate virtual currencies, the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation issued an April 24, 2014 advisory which clarifies the state’s position on the matter, essentially deferring to federal laws and regulations. For example, one advisory point states “an administrator or exchanger that accepts and transmits a convertible virtual currency or buys or sells convertible virtual currency for any reason is a money transmitter under federal regulations and therefore should be registered as a money services business.”


The Division of Banks issued “Selected Opinion 14-004” on May 12, 2014 which determined Bitcoin ATMs were not to be considered a financial institution and that Bitcoin is exempt from foreign currency transmission regulations.

Secretary of the Commonwealth, William Galvin, warned investors about “Bitcoin Mania” in a December 13, 2017 release. The secretary has also said his office will “begin a sweep of entities” who raise funds through Initial Coin Offerings (ICO).


The Michigan Department of Treasury issued guidance concerning virtual currency and explaining how sales tax applies to use of virtual currencies. For instance “…a taxpayer accepting virtual currency in a retail sale transaction must convert the value of the virtual currency to USD as of the day and the exact time of the transaction.” Additionally, “purchases of virtual currency — as contrasted with purchases made with virtual currency — are not subject to sales or use tax.”


No known blockchain or cryptocurrency regulations or guidance issued at this time.


No known blockchain or cryptocurrency regulations or guidance issued at this time.


The office of the Secretary of State issued a June 2016 cease and desist order which makes clear that the selling of stock in Bitcoin amounts to the unregistered selling of securities in Missouri.

In a 2015 private letter ruling, the Missouri Department of Revenue determined that Bitcoin purchased through an ATM provider “is not subject to Missouri sales tax because bitcoin is intangible property” and the “only tangible personal property is subject to sales tax in Missouri.”


Currently, Montana is the only state with no money transmission laws enacted. Thus, by default, there are no transmission laws specific to virtual currencies. The state amended its Electronic Contributions Act to require reporting of donations made “through a payment gateway” which includes Bitcoin.

In June 2017, Governor Steve Bullock announced a $416,000 grant to Project Spokane. He stated “The funds will be used for purchase of equipment, machinery, furniture and software and for wage reimbursement. Project Spokane, LLC is a data center that provides blockchain security services for the bitcoin network.” This is the first “known instance of a direct government investment in a bitcoin mining operation.”


Nebraska had a series of bills introduced to the legislature in January 2018. If enacted into law, LB 691 would adopt the “Nebraska Virtual Currency Money Laundering Act” to both define and redefine terms under the Nebraska Money Transmitters Act. LB 695 would legally define and recognize smart contracts as well as authorize the use of blockchain technology for digital signatures. LB 694 would prohibit “cities and villages and counties” from taxing or regulating distributed ledger technology. Lastly, LB 987 would adopt the Uniform Regulation of Virtual-Currency Business Act which would provide a regulatory framework for “virtual-currency business activity.”


Governor Brian Sandoval signed SB 398 into law on June 05, 2017. It establishes various provisions related to the use of blockchain technology such as banning local governments from taxing the use of a blockchain or smart contract and would consider electronic signatures contained in a blockchain legally viable.

New Hampshire

HB 552, which died in chamber,was a 2015 effort to require the state treasurer to develop and implement a plan for the state to accept Bitcoin as payment for state taxes and fees.

On June 7 2017, Governor John Sununu signed HB 436 into law which exempts those using virtual currencies from registering as money transmitters.  

New Jersey

The New Jersey Division of Taxation issued a 2015 memo clarifying the state’s position on the taxation of transactions involving “convertible virtual currency.” It advised advises that any “seller and/or retailer of taxable goods or services that accept convertible virtual currency as payment must determine the fair market value of the currency in U.S. dollars as of the date of payment and charge the purchaser Sales Tax on the underlying transaction.”

The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, or AB 3433 was approved by Governor Chris Christie on September 13, 2017 and authorizes an “executor, agent, guardian, or trustee, under certain circumstances, to manage electronic records of decedent, principal, incapacitated person, or trust creator.” AB 1906 was Introduced and referred to the Assembly Science, Innovation, and Technology Committee on January 09, 2018 and would establish a regulatory framework through the “Digital Currency Jobs Creation Act.”

New Mexico

New Mexico was initially a state whose Financial Institutions Division did not require a license or regulate money transmitters, which made it appealing to cryptocurrency related ventures. In fact, that was the primary reason why the first Bitcoin ATMs in the United States were launched in New Mexico. With the passage of HB 250, that appeal was lost. The bill, signed into law by Governor Susana Martinez,  requires money transmitters to obtain a license effective January 01, 2017. It did not mention businesses transmitting cryptocurrencies, making the legal obligations for these businesses to conduct business within the state unclear.

New York

Effective August 08, 2015, the New York State Department of Financial Services established a regulatory framework that any virtual currency businesses would need to abide by. This was known as the BitLicense or 23 NYCRR 200. In addition to 44 pages of compliance requirements, the license requires a $5,000 dollar application fee. This led to “The Great Bitcoin Exodus” as businesses were either not able to meet the license requirements or found it too costly to comply. A recent February 2018 public hearing was held to voice concerns over the license. State Senator David Carlucci told CoinDesk that a bill to reform the regulation may be introduced “very soon.”

Four bills were filed on November 27, 2017 dealing with distributed ledger technology and are awaiting action after committee referral. AB 8780 would legally validate signatures, records, and contracts secured through blockchain technology and would allow smart contracts to exist in commerce. AB 8792 would direct the board of elections to study the use of blockchain technology to protect voter records and election results. AB 8793 would establish a task force to study the potential use of blockchain technology in state record keeping, information storage, and service delivery. AB 8783 would establish an additional task force to study the potential effects of a widespread implementation of digital currencies on financial markets in the state. Additionally, AB 9685 was introduced and referred to committee on February 02, 2018 and would create a task force to study the impact of a state-issued cryptocurrency on the state of New York.

The Department of Financial Services issued guidance to all business entities licensed under 23 NYCRR Part 200 on February 07, 2018 which emphasizes the importance of “effectively preventing and responding to fraud and similar wrongdoing” and stated that “effective measures must include implementation of a written policy to…identify an effectively prevent risk.” License holders are also instructed to report “any wrongdoing” to the Department of Financial Services.  

North Carolina

The North Carolina Money Transmitters Act, or HB 289, was enacted into law June 28, 2016 with the signature of then-Governor Pat McCrory. It updates North Carolina’s Money Transmitter Act to include those who transmit virtual currency. The current Governor, Roy Cooper, signed HB 229 into law July 12, 2017 which defines virtual currency traders as money transmitters required to obtain a license and imposes additional insurance requirements on virtual currency transmitters.

North Dakota

The only legislative action has been SB 2100 which failed to pass upon a second reading on March 01, 2017. It would have established a “legislative management study” of virtual currency. It reportedly failed due to critical speculation by the legislature’s Business and Labor Committee.


The Ohio Department of Public Safety decided “Bitcoin cannot be accepted as a payment for alcohol in the State of Ohio.” The agent in charge of the Ohio Investigative Unit of the Department of Public Safety said that because Bitcoin’s value fluctuates so much, it is more of a commodity and “not recognized as legal tender.”


In 2014, the Oklahoma state legislature added an official comment to Okla. Stat. Ann. § 1-9-332 which specifies that Bitcoin transferees would not be afforded same protections that would otherwise be afforded to the transferees of money. It states, as well, that a seller of a product or service that accepts Bitcoin does not “take the cryptocurrency free of an existing security interest.”


Governor Kate Brown signed SB 277 into law on May 20, 2015 which requires virtual currency exchanges to register as money transmitters and obtain a license from the Department of Consumer and Business Services. This led to CEX.IO, an international Bitcoin exchange, announcing it would no longer continue operations in the State of Oregon.  


The passage of HB 850 amended the states money transfer laws to include virtual currencies within the state’s definition of money. The bill was signed into law November 03, 2016 by Governor Tom Wolf .

Rhode Island

No known blockchain or cryptocurrency regulations or guidance issued at this time.

South Carolina

After the passage of AB 266 in South Carolina, Montana became the only state to not have money transmitter laws or regulations on the books. Governor Henry McMaster signed the bill requiring licensing and its underlying requirements for money transmitters June 09, 2016.

South Dakota

No known blockchain or cryptocurrency regulations or guidance issued at this time.


The Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions issued guidance on December 16, 2015 exempting cryptocurrency from the state’s money transmitter laws. “Because cryptocurrency is not money under the Tennessee Money Transmitter Act, receiving it in exchange for a promise to make it available at a later time or different location is not money transmission.”


Two bills were introduced to the state’s legislature in January 2018. If enacted into law, HB 1507 would recognize the legal authority to use blockchain technology and smart contracts in conducting electronic transactions and protects ownership rights of certain information secured by blockchain technology. HB 2093 would prohibit “trustees of any defined contribution plan or related investment vehicle established as a health benefit by the state insurance company from investing in cryptocurrency.”


The Texas Department of Banking issued a guidance memo on April 03, 2014 establishing that “because cryptocurrency is not money under the Money Services Act, receiving it in exchange for a promise to make it available at a later time or different location is not money transmission.” HJR 89 was introduced March 02, 2017 but died in committee. It proposed an amendment to the Texas Constitution regarding the right to own, hold, and use any mutually agreed upon medium of exchange.

Texas became the first state where an entire real estate transaction took place with Bitcoin. The seller commented “In all my 33 years of closing transactions, I honestly couldn’t have expected something so unique to go so smoothly. In a matter of 10 minutes, the Bitcoin was changed to US Dollars and the deal was done.”


In 2015, proposed HRC 006 would have allowed residents to pay their taxes in Bitcoin, but failed to pass. The legislature did pass SB 175, which Governor Gary Herbert signed into law on March 24, 2017, which modifies the state’s Uniform Unclaimed Property Act to include virtual currencies.


Then-Governor Peter Shumlin signed HB 868 into law June 02, 2016 allowing for blockchain data to be used in the Vermont court system. The current Governor, Phil Scott, signed HB 182 on May 04, 2017 which updates the state’s money transmission rules with a definition for “virtual currency.” The governor also signed SB 135 on June 08, 2017 which establishes a working group to study how blockchain technology could help the state.

Introduced January 03, 2018 and referred to the Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs, SB 269 seeks to produce a regulatory framework for the use of blockchain technology.


Signed by then-Governor Terry McAuliffe on February 02, 2017, HB 1608, or the Uniform Fiduciary Access Act, created the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act which allows fiduciaries to manage digital property such as computer files, web domains, and virtual currency. A notice from the Virginia Bureau of Financial Institutions informs residents that the Money Order Sellers and Money Transmitters codes do “not currently regulate virtual currencies; however, to the extent virtual currency transactions also involve the transfer of fiat currencies.”

Joint resolution HJR 153 was introduced January 23, 2018 and is currently in the rules committee. The resolution would establish a subcommittee charged to study the potential implementation of blockchain technology in state recordkeeping, information storage, and service delivery.


Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 5031 on April 17, 2017 which updates the existing money transmission laws to include businesses dealing with virtual currencies. Shortly after going into effect, exchanges such as Bitfinex, Bitstamp, Kraken, and Poloniex pulled out of the state.

Referred to the Business & Financial Services Committee on January 08, 2018, HB 1045 would additionally address licensing and enforcement provisions applicable to money transmitters.

West Virginia

The legislature passed HB 2585 and Governor Jim Justice signed it into law April 26, 2017. This bill legally defines cryptocurrency as a monetary instrument and outlaws its use in association with criminal activities.


While no official regulations have passed, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions decided that those companies that have already obtained a license to sell or issue checks or receive fiat currency for transmissions may also transmit virtual currency, so long as they enter an agreement with the division. Two companies, Coinx Inc. and Circle Internet Financial Inc., have entered into this agreement.


Two notable bills are making their way through the Wyoming legislature. HB 70 known as the “utility token bill” would define a utility token, or “open blockchain token” as neither traditional money nor a security and those who facilitate the exchange of utility tokens are not considered traditional brokers of securities. “The Bitcoin bill,” or HB 19, would exempt cryptocurrency from the Wyoming Money Transmitters Act. Both bills passed a second reading on March 01, 2018 and are awaiting further action.

Three additional bills are currently being considered. HB 101 would update Wyoming’s Business Corporations Act to authorize corporations to use electronic networks or databases for the creation or maintenance of corporate records. HB 126  would allow for the creation of “series LLCs” which are favorable to decentralized protocols. HB 111 would exempt cryptocurrency from Wyoming state property taxes. These three bills were also filed in February 2018.


**The content above does not amount to legal advice and was presumed accurate upon publication. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.