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I read that eos airdrops are a way of bypassing SEC regulations. How is this possible? How does the coin isssuer even make money then?

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To answer the second part of the question:

The coin issuer raise funds (not make money :) ) by selling chunks of the tokens on exchanges. The price will follow the market supply and demand. Have a look at the everipedia Air Drop, one of the most famous on EOS blockchain.

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Although this forum is incorrect for legal question, let me answer here.

How tokens are distributed does not affect to the nature of the token if it is a security or not. SEC takes hard stance and deems most of the tokens as a security. Often this is caused by the fact that tokens are bought or used for investment or speculation and token holders depend on the issuer to work for the token value to go up.

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