Monday, June 18, 2007

Even More Second Life Gambling: Two New Issues to Consider

In the wake of a bit of a gambling scandal in Second Life, two new points of concern have been once again made very public.

1. Second Life is not an inherently secure gambling platform, and as such, both the player and the house should be exceedingly wary of the integrity of the game.
2. Linden Labs, while claiming to "ban gambling," has done nothing of the sort, and needs to start worrying that the Feds may soon come calling.

Second Life Gambling Security

Gambling, at its core, is only as valuable as the integrity of the game. If the house is cheating, the player shouldn't play. If the player is cheating, the house shouldn't be letting the player play. In either case, when the integrity is placed into question from one side or the other, the game loses. Second Life has to be one of the few places where the integrity of the game itself is questioned more often than it is validated.

Here is just a short list of reasons why Second Life is not a good place to be involved in gambling:
1. There is no oversight of the house.
2. There is no oversight of the player.
3. The security is only as good as the scripter, and often, that isn't very good.
4. There is no real grievance system.
5. There is no way to assure payout.

To be honest, a player never knows if the house is paying out what it should, when it should, and without releasing information to other parties. On the flip side, the house never knows if the player has found a way to scam the system, short of an incident like this. Imagine if FrostyFox had, rather than take $200,000 up front, taken $500 per day for a few months. Would Bob Perry have even noticed, or if he did, would he have just considered it within the acceptable margin of error? As much as everyone likes to believe in the honesty of others, this should be example enough to make some people think twice.

Linden Labs UIGEA Wake Up Call

It was not that long ago when the reports of the Feds visiting Second Life made their way into the blog-o-sphere. And for a while it seemed that maybe Linden had taken the matter seriously. But this new story just shows that Linden's efforts were far more hollow than they appeared. It is hard to fault them, as the methods described to fly under the radar, and because no companies have yet felt the wrath of the UIGEA, but Linden (and potentially other game developers) need to take notice before the Feds decide to dictate the outcome. And unfortunately for the MMO developers, the Skill Game Protection Act won't do anything for in-game slots or other games of chance, even if they are cloaked within a game of skill.

As we approach the 270 day deadline to construct the finding tracking system, we may be inching closer to the first enforcement of the UIGEA. The question remains, however, when that enforcement will spread to the MMO world. If the status quo continues, the answer may be sooner than you think.

No comments: