Second Life bans gambling in virtual world

No more logging into Second Life for gambling with play money in the virtual world.

Rather than wait for an official ruling, Linden Labs has decided to ban gambling in its online virtual world, Second Life.

The issue came up in April when rumors began circulating that the authorities were investigating the gambling take place through casinos and lotteries in the virtual world. Players were previously allowed to gamble on the site, but only using the in-game currency.

The problem is those "Linden Dollars" can be, and often are, traded for real money.

Back in April, the site chose to deal with the potential legal issue by no longer accepting classified ads, place listings or event listings that appear to relate to simulated casino activity.

Linden Labs took it one step further on Wednesday, announcing to its virtual world that gambling on the site is no longer allowed.

"While Linden Lab does not offer an online gambling service, Linden Lab and Second Life Residents must comply with state and federal laws applicable to regulated online gambling, even when both operators and players of the games reside outside the U.S.," says the company in a blog to its customers.

"And, because there are a variety of conflicting gambling regulations around the world, we have chosen to restrict gambling in Second Life as described in a revised policy which is posted in the Knowledge Base under 'Policy Regarding Wagering in Second Live.'"

The new policy states it is a violation of this policy to wager in games in the Second Life environment operated on Linden Lab servers if such games do both of the following:

  • Rely on chance or random number generation to determine a winner, or rely on the outcome of real-life organized sporting event.
  • Provide a payout in Linden Dollars or any real-world currency or thing of value.

The policy includes casino games such as poker, blackjack, craps, keno roulette, slot machines and more. Also banned are sports books and sports betting on virtual or real-world events.

"If we discover gambling activities that violate the policy, we will remove all related objects from the in-world environment, may suspend or terminate the accounts of residents involved without refund or payment, and may report any relevant details, including user information, to authorities and financial institutions," says the company in the policy.

The new policy will take effect immediately, and there will be no reimbursement if Linden Lab removes objects or activities that violate the policy.

Even for residents of the game who live where online gambling isn't illegal, they will have to conform to the policy as well.

"This policy applies to all use of Second Live," says Linden Labs. "It isn't intended to describe what is or isn't legal for any particular resident or any particular place. It describes what Linden Lab believes is appropriate to maintain its business requirements and to operate Second Life."

Members of the site are already voicing opinions on the issue. While a few have applauded Linden Labs for being proactive and avoiding possible legal action, many are upset about the ban.

"I feel misled. I thought Second Life was another world where real life laws didn't apply. If you issue one real-life law, you should issue them all," commented Second Life resident Bobo Decosta in the site's blog.

"Or you say gambling is illegal, as is gay marriage and guns should be forbidden as well. Guns might be legal in the U.S. they aren't where I live, but do you ever think these will be forbidden?" continues Decosta. "No way! So feel very discriminated that I should obey only U.S. laws while laws in my country are a joke to Linden Labs."

One virtual-world resident also pointed out the hypocrisy of the online gambling laws themselves that make Linden Lab's new policy in a virtual world seem silly.

"Ah, you see, it's only illegal in countries such as Canada and America, where government hides behind moral blithering to make sure that gambling only happens when the governments get to pocket most of the money," said Chaz Longstaff.

" And that's about it in a nut shell. They're not adverse to gambling profits; in fact, they're addicted to them. That's why they crack down so hard when someone tries to bypass them or muscle in on their turf."

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