Saturday, July 28, 2007

Second Life bans gambling

(via net.wars) The official Second Life blog has announced that it will ban gambling from the popular virtual world. The new policy bans all games of chance through random-number generators that provide a payout in Linden dollars or any real life currency. This includes all sorts of casino games (such as poker, Blackjack and Roulette), but also covers sports betting "including the placing of bets on actual sporting events against a book-maker or through a betting exchange".

Why this ban? For those unfamiliar with recent events in the United States, the Bush Administration has declared War on Online Gambling through the Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006 (SAFE Port Act, those Americans sure know how to get cool acronyms into their legislation, huh?) You may be wondering about the name, right? You see, the Act deals with port security AND Internet gambling because, well, because, err... you got me there. What better way to pass legislation that erodes civil liberties than to marry it with legislation that deals with the War on Terror? You're either with us or against us, if you support online gambling you also support the terrorists, they all hate our freedoms; you know the rhetoric. But I digress...

This is a deeply troubling move by Second Life for so many reasons. Firstly, let me say that I have never gambled online, and I do not intend to do so. The extent of my gambling is to go once a year to a casino in Costa Rica to lose whatever I bet (I'm just unlucky that way). Moreover, I do not intend to ever gamble in Second Life (my contempt for that online world is well documented). However, I find this regulatory action by Linden Labs as an extremely worrying trend. So, the current American administration has a problem with online gambling? Good for them. But why should such an action be transferred to an online world inhabited by people from all over the world? This is regulatory action that goes beyond anything that exists in the law, and also exports a model to the rest of us.

I understand that Linden Labs are trying to reduce their liabilities, but to do so by banning activities that are legal almost everywhere else in the world is a vastly worrying development. We should all be concerned about private actions that have such extensive regulatory consequences.


Duncan said...

It's a really interesting move as one of the great attractions of SecondLife is the great freedom that people have there - right?
This could be commercially really costly for them.


Squirelmaster said...

I realy feel for the gamblers in the US. I cant beleive your Congress banned all banks and credit card companies from accepting transactions from online gambling sites which makes you unable to play online poker. What a bunch of hypocrites your state government are. They have the largest gambling operations with lotto, keno, etc. If they truly believed their rhetoric about internet gambling they would cut out the state operations also. And now they are bringing in a law to legalise slot machines. Personally I would have a big grudge against any party that stopped me from playing on a online poker site. I think there must be some way for you guys to get around this problem. Must make you wonder if you are living in the land of the free when it seems the government has full control on what it will and wont let you do.