Friday, June 15, 2007

H.R. 2610 - The Skill Game Protection Act

Law of the Game noted rumors of a proposal to exempt games of skill from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act last week. That bill has materialized as H.R. 2610 "The Skill Game Protection Act." As the text is now available, some analysis can proceed. The relevant portion of the bill reads:

(f) As used in this section, the term `bets or wagers' does not include operating, or participation in, poker, chess, bridge, mahjong or any other game where success is predominantly determined by a player's skill, to the extent that--
      `(1) the game provides for competition only between and among participants, and not against the person operating the game; and
      `(2) the operator is in compliance with regulations issued pursuant to section 5368 of title 31, United States Code.'.

There are three critical points in this act in terms of inclusion:
1. success is predominantly determined by a player's skill
2. competition only between and among participants
3. [competition] not against the person operating the game

In the simplest terms, it has to be a game won by skill, bet on by players, and the house must not have a seat at the table.

As I often like to do, I'm going to set forth some examples of what is and isn't allowed under this proposed legislation.

1. A system where players could wager on the outcome of the next round of, say, Halo.
2. A system where players paid to enter a tournament, with the winner or top few spots taking the money paid in.
3. A system that allowed people to wager on the results of PvP combat in an MMORPG (round or tournament), so long as the betters were all combatants.
4. A system that let people bet on the result of a a race in, for example, Forza 2.
5. Wagering on the outcome of a round of Mario Party you are participating in. (This is the most questionable, as there are so many chance elements in Mario Party. However, I believe that the game is more skill than chance, so I think application would work here.)

Not Allowed:
1. Betting on the outcome of a game you're not playing. For example, I couldn't put cash on a player to win the next round of Halo as an observer.
2. Betting on someone else to win when you're playing. (This is a traditional gambling issue. If you're playing poker, you can't put money on the guy 2 seats down the table. It would eliminate the integrity of the game.)
3. Betting on the outcome of a Player vs. Computer match, i.e. betting as to whether a player character could beat a high level creature in a coliseum.
4. It does not legitimize gold farming or other MMORPG profiteering, as those are generated in a player vs. computer (environment) model.
5. Betting on anything primarily determined by chance, i.e. blackjack within an MMORPG.

Of course, this is just revision one of the bill, and all of this may change, or they bill may never pass at all. However, it does pose some interesting possibilities.


Blue Vista said...

Can you tell me the status of entering a tournament or 1 on 1 online competition for games like Halo via a site; can I now register online from Florida to win if I do not play against the "house"?.

Roger Dodd

Michael van Leest said...

@Blue Vista
This is just a draft and not final. So don't expect that it would be available soon.

kp said...

if i was to create a site where i play people in madden for money. Me vs Them for cash is that against the law?

Triggnus said...

Would it be legal to hold a tournament in which all players payed an entry fee, the best players received cash prizes and the person running the tournament kept a portion of the proceeds? This example assumes that person running the tournament has a business license.