Thursday, July 10, 2014

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Linden Lab to Allow Real Money Payouts for Winning Games of Skill in Second Life

In a move with both potential promise and peril, Linden Lab just announced it will soon allow Linden Dollar payouts for games of skill (i.e. no casino games) in tightly regulated, zoned areas of Second Life. Since L$ can be bought and sold for US$, this basically enables online gaming with real money payouts. Many have tried to offer such a service, but for various reasons, none have really gained much traction. However, because Second Life already has a relatively large userbase using Linden Dollars, there's a lot of potential here -- if ambitious game developers are willing to jump through all the regulatory hurdles Linden Lab has waiting for them. Here's just one of the clauses:

Access to Skill Gaming Regions will be restricted to Second Life users who are of sufficient age and are located in a jurisdiction that Linden Lab permits for this kind of online gaming activity. If you are in a permitted jurisdiction and you meet the relevant age requirements, you will be able to access these regions just like any in Second Life. If you are not eligible, you will receive an error message. However, you are responsible for knowing which jurisdictions are prohibited and the requisite ages of participation and not attempting to access a Skill Gaming Region if you do not qualify. Attempts to circumvent our controls will constitute a violation of our Skill Gaming Policy and Terms of Service.

So the question becomes, who has the skill to deploy skill-based gaming?

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Ciaran Laval

These skill games already exist and are already running, so LL aren't changing anything there, what they are doing is tightening the rules and governance at a cost to creators, sim owners and operators.

This may well make Second Life more enticing for bigger gaming firms to embrace the virtual world as they won't find those hoops so onerous to jump through.

Pussycat Catnap

Yeah this gambling already exists in SL.

Somebody in legal probably started wondering why the they haven't been raided by a career-promotion-seeking prosecutor yet... and so sat down with Marketing to find a way to make ensuring legality could also become a business opportunity.

This looks like it aims to more clearly shift legal risks onto the people operating gambling outfits.

joe

Hey Ebbe just wants to get some of dat online-gaming-crack. If your eyeballs are 'jonesin' for the inevitable blindness, more power to ya.

Vex

This policy change introduces rather strict new restrictions, not expansion of permitted activities or newly available opportunities in any sense. Up until now, these "games of skill" have been explicitly, and apparently intentionally, exempted from the wagering policy. While it is clearly aimed at high-stakes games, it will also likely eliminate a significant segment of casual games offered in various venues as adjunct entertainment.

Tara Li

I'm not sure what qualifies here - Zyngo & such? What about 7Seas fishing contests, with Linden Dollar payouts among the fishers? Admitted, there's really no skill involved in the 7Seas fishing - but it is gambling, or what?

Tesla Miles

Lots of noobs don't know these 'skill games' exist, so I think by creating the Skill Game Regions, it allows LL to promote them in the destination guide, while giving permission to owners to purchase classified ads for their gaming region without fear of a ban.

zzpearlbottom

Still so far nobody told me what is a skill game?
Can i still play strip poker as no money is evolved?

zzpearlbottom

And yes, before any asks, there are several strip poker games in sl, all using rlv to strip each piece of clothing when she/he looses.

Lamorna Proctor

As a creator, the main hurdle is that they want to vet each and every game. The application process states that I must supply "a reasoned legal opinion from a credible attorney in good standing, which describes in detail the operation and legality of the games of skill you are submitting for approval". There is no way a small SL business like mine can afford to do this. Nor, with the best will in the world, can I do this before August 1st.

However, if someone with deep pockets wants to employ an experienced game designer and scripter, I might be available :)

Frans

ZZpearl, as far as I understand it, they are only putting restrictions up for games that pay out money.


Lamorna bring up a good point, anybody got a any idea how much a reasoned legal opinion costs? I would hope it would be possible for a couple of hundred bucks.

Shug Maitland

Basicly all of the existing games of skill with a payout are illegal as soon as this goes into effect. Given the logistical and economic hurdles set out it is doubtful any will be back. Even very extensive (and expensive) projects will probably not be worth it.

joe

I guess Ebbe 'The Skipper' Eggberg is still "working" on that TOS for ya.

Cicadetta Stillwater

@Tara: There's been quite a bit of discussion about this in the 7Seas chat group. Um, not that we've come up with any conclusions or heard anything from the creators, as far as we know.

On the other hand, the fishing contests with pots are not an integral part of the fishing game. They're easily separable from the fishing in which, well, fish and things are the prizes. So.. at least there's that.

Bixyl Shuftan

I talked briefly with the owner of one "Skill Games" maker, Foxyfurman Kunami. I should have something "on the record" from him in a few days.

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