Second Life May Also Represent New Life For Online Gambling

from the but-when-will-the-feds-open-up-shop-there? dept

As the exaggerated hype around Second Life has continued to grow, quite a few people have started pointing out that the most prominent activities in Second Life aren’t the highbrow talks given by famous people, or various economic or social experiments, but like so many popular internet spaces: vices rule the day. Especially popular is gambling — though, you almost never hear about that when the press writes up their latest gushing piece about some big celebrity showing up in Second Life or a big company opening a virtual building there. Yet, it’s one of the more popular activities there — perhaps even more since the US government began its big crackdown on online gambling, forcing financial firms not to do business with online gambling operations. However, how will they manage that when the currency is not US dollars and the medium covers a lot more than just gambling? As Rob Hof notes over at Business Week, you can lose real money gambling in Second Life — and it doesn’t seem like there’s an easy way for the government to stop it directly. Of course, because Second Life decided to bring real world laws into their virtual world, it may only be a matter of time until we hear that the Feds have set up shop in Second Life as well, in order to crack down on such things… It’s going to be a blast to watch the jurisdictional battles that show up when governments start trying to enforce laws within Second Life.


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Comments on “Second Life May Also Represent New Life For Online Gambling”

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20 Comments
MattD (user link) says:

SL Gambling

The real issue with SL gambling is the fact that the games can be fraudulent and there is no enforcement of it whatsoever. I found a group that set up temporary casinos with fraudulent devices which they close down for reputational reasons and then start up again under different accounts.

At least in Vegas, the industry is regulated and you don’t encounter BJ tables where you bet $100 USD, win the hand and the dealer doesn’t give you your money. In fact, SL is starting to look more and more like a big phishing scam (and I am a fan of SL) as I’ve found vendor devices that don’t give you products when you pay them, etc. are being seen with increasing frequency. Complaints to Linden Labs get the same canned response.

The infamous Joe says:

Question

I’m a little foggy on what it really means when you say that SL has brought real world laws into SL. Lots of games bring real world laws into gameplay– I’ll go ahead and bring the example of GTA#. In that game, if you shoot a cop, you’ll, most likely, end up getting arrested. That doesn’t mean that the *real* cops will show up at your door with handcuffs.

So, SL has adopted the laws of the US (Though, as many states have different laws, I imagine they have stuck with just Federal ones– though if they adopted the state laws of Nevada, would gambling be okay again?) That doesn’t mean a violation of these adopted laws means a violation of a REAL law. It means a violation of a fake law that looks a lot like a real law– therefore it falls solely under the game admins to deal with, not the Feds.

In a different light, I’ve read of and seen several scams while playing World of Warcraft– but could you imagine the response you’d get if you called the cops because someone on WoW scammed you out of 500 gold? Or if we decided to up the ante on our dorkiness and gambled rolling dice?

..and before it’s said, there are sites that will buy WoW gold from you, so yes, I could translate it into real money if I so desired.

That’s just my take on things.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Question

the big differance is that second life set up there system to turn their “play” money into real money. While it is true that their are places to buy Warcraft (or any other MMORPG) gold, the companies that run them fight agianst it, with banning accounts and removing gold from their online econony.
Second life added systems that directly allow real world monies to change hands, as well as the concept of IP Laws into their enviroment. in doing so they have blured the line between real world and online game. through that they have opened themselves up to the legal headaches of both.

just my 2cp

The infamous Joe says:

Now, where did I put that point?

I think I added too much so that my point was overshadowed by the awesomeness that is World of Warcraft.

Just because SL adopts laws doesn’t mean that breaking one of them translates to breaking a real world law. Except for perhaps IP, which is all made up anyway. No matter what the hype, it is not real, it is a game. Just because it mimics the real world (which, I think defeats the purpose of a game– but that’s just me) doesn’t mean it *is* the real world.

theDock22 says:

What's wrong?

I never understood why online gambling was illegal. Why doesn’t the government just tax it to cash in on the money changing hands? And they would also be able to regulate it so if a company scams your money you can sue somebody. I work hard for my money and should be able to do what I want with it, even if that means gambling it away! Besides, the government NEEDS more money these days, I don’t think they’re in a position to pick and choose how they get it.

Oh well, with the Democrats now controlling congress maybe we can get online gambling legalized.

jack Sombra says:

Hof’s observations are not particularly new, there has been for a long time debate over SL and it’s official exchange rate mechanism, just it’s normally in relation to taxation. Ultimately I would say it will be covered by the same rules that are shutting down casinos for Americans because otherwise all the casinos could just turn around and start calling their “currency” “points” instead and be able to open up shop in the US again

Other MMO’s would not be affected though as they don’t have an official and controlled exchange rate mechanism, actually in most cases they have the complete opposite, rules against selling for real life currency thus in many ways protecting the publisher and to a lesser degree the players from government interference. SL though have removed those protections, opening themselves (and their players) wide open to get done over by the government

Whatever says:

Biggest losers

Ever wonder who opposes legalized national and online gambling? Well only the people who would lose the most: the Nevada gaming establishment, Indian tribes, and those that are “outside” the existing laws. Almost all the lobbying done to oppose gambling is funded by gaming groups (ahh, irony). So if you want your online poker, sports betting, and all the fun stuff start funding your own lobbying group, and raise a few billion so you can compete. That’s how things get done in America. In fact, I’d recommend getting together a group of Billionaire entrepreneurs and forming your own lobby: CItizens for Responsible Gaming (CIRG). You could probably claim your more “wholesome” than the groups opposing legalization.

misanthropic humanist says:

carry on kiddig yourself

There does come a point with this topic, despite its obviously implied levity, beyond which those that seriously discuss it, including Mike for posting the story, all of the above commentators and myself are in fact demonstrably clinically insane.

The inability to distinguish fantasy from reality is a serious illness. It does not manifest itself overnight as a spectacular symptom, rather it creeps insidiously into the consciousness of the patient by small measures. Conditions are optimal for the disease to propagate when there are others who share and reinforce those irrationalities. (Dawkings entire book in one paragraph there for you)

Religion, fantasy role playing games and political ideologies are all facets of this same madness. Gambling is an interesting special case of reality denial, where an otherwise intelligent person who knows the odds are stacked completely against them still clings to the delusion (often aided by superstitious beliefs) that they can “win” against the system.

But don’t be discouraged, in fact carry on. One of my own perculiar fantasies is that one evening while you are all engrossed in playing Second Life, I , and my legions of evil ninja sharks (with fricken lasers on their heads no less) will simply take over the world.

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Father Jones says:

Second Life anno 2009: too many people are still losing too much money on Zyngo. And it is for sure a gambling game first class. Even with the blue and green jokers, it is definitly a game of chance, like bingo is considered one. Talking about too much money, I mean like people playing for 1000 USD in one hour. Did you guys ever searched for high roller places with Zyngo? You can play machines there for 5000 (17 USD)up to 50000 Linden Dollars (175 USD) a game, with pots to win up to 1 million Linden Dollars (3500 USD). And that is what the creator of the game and the owners of those places call an innocent game of skill for fun? I wonder when someone will have the guts to bring this to the right people, the press, the financial company’s Linden Lab is depending on, and also of course the US government,… We are not only talking about Zyngo in this matter. There are lots of ‘zyngo-clones’ produced lately by other programmers that are made for the very same purpose: making huge money, not just the money you need to buy you a pair of shoes, a piece of land and a house to live in your virtual world. Millions of dollars are running around in this gamblingbusiness on Second Life. Anyone doubting my words: just take a look yourself inworld.

SL Resident says:

i know fine well there are people tinkering with zyngo games to FORCE you to lose. i was playing at a place where “you can always win” and I found it quite curious to be drawing the 50% score pulling devil (9 out of 10 times, other scores cut were 40%) 15 rounds out of 20 so i had a look inside thier machine and boy oh boy what did i find?

3 or so scripts more than should be in the game, along with notecards to control thier settings.

1 called “skin” (zyngo has skin control built in FFS, just copy the UUID)
Zyngo HB V1 Sender Script
Zyngo HB V1 Settings (notecard)
and more disturbingly
Zyngo Stats Collector V1.4 Sender Script
Zyngo Stats Collector V1.4 Settings (notecard)

i have a screencap of this. and i am prepared to rub it in whoever’s face i need to to bring this facade to an end.

This is something i would love to see zymurgy worm out of with his technical words.

metin2 (user link) says:

much money, I mean like people playing for 1000 USD in one hour. Did you guys ever searched for high roller places with Zyngo? You can play machines there for 5000 (17 USD)up to 50000 Linden Dollars (175 USD) a game, with pots to win up to 1 million Linden Dollars (3500 USD). And that is what the creator of the game and the owners of those places call an innocent game of skill for fun

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