Gambling in Second Life

The latest notice from Linden Research regarding clarification of the ban on gambling or ‘gaming’ on the grid has caused a lot of activity in the blogs in comments and criticism. However having experienced the same demise of gambling or ‘gaming’ sites on the Internet I am not at all surprised. What does surprise me is the attitude of those who are now criticising the Lindens for ‘their’ decision, as it is not at all their choice. Legal pressure on US owned business, or businesses with US directors or shareholders allowing gambling or gaming on their premises or sites or ‘worlds’ have only grown significantly over the last few years and culminated in the complete ban in this past year on US citizens playing on such sites, unless they and the game owners are based in a state where this is expressly allowed under state law.
Since Gov Spitzer put pressure on banks and the card associations for allowing people to play themselves into heavy debt using their credit cards on-line, the entire process was leading to this law being ratified, and now the Lindens have been forced to change their stance too, to ensure they are not exposed to civil or even criminal prosecution. Sadly SL is in RL regardless the romantic statement of ‘our world, our imagination’. RL laws apply always.

So to all those mad at the Lindens for doing what they just did, focus rather on the legal process in the US, on the lawmakers who prefer to keep the service providers accountable, whilst the cardholders are completely ignored. Until the system in the US focuses on the actual card-holder and focuses on teaching them that they should also be responsible for their own actions, i.e. playing themselves into debt, instead of the service providers only, this will remain a blanket ban across the Internet that includes Second Life (my view).

And for those of us not US citizens sadly so much comes from the US or is based in the US in our Internet world that we will always be affected in this way whenever internal politics there causes such laws to be passed on business we engage with that are US based, owned or managed. In this particular case of a ban I am not affected as I don’t gambling and don’t approve of it either, but it does not mean I am in full agreement with the ban. I feel a line has been crossed in the US this past year that makes it hard to justify the law changes completely as it has shown a domestic issue can impact a global industry and non-US citizens very negatively, with what is possibly not the best legal solution to the problem.

One thing I do feel the ban in SL specifically has brought to the fore, and that is the conflicting interpretations of the ToS statements about the Linden $. I hope that this is the opportunity for the Lindens to change the ToS to remove the perceived conflicts on this matter. Regardless all the issues, and even as I am very sorry for all the residents who will lose out on income, investment and so on (Bishara too has lost its Tringo venue due to this change), we are where we are today and no amount of mud-slinging will change the facts or LL’s views on this. Lindens, lets focus on getting the grid cleaned up and working well again, as just staying on-line without being logged off by the current buggy viewer, or having do without the various problems caused after the latest roll out of changes (possibly due to beta code on the live grid?) would be a vast improvement to my current daily SL experience.

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