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FBI and the virtual gambling in "Second Life"

"Second Life" is a popular online virtual world with millions of subscribers. It was made by Linden Lab and the goal was to emulate the real world into a virtual-reality one.

And just to show how gambling, like it or not, is a part of everyday life in the real world, there are quite a few virtual casinos popping in "Second Life". They let you gamble using Linden dollars (the game's own currency unit) and according to some reports, those casinos make around $1,500 in profits every month.

Linden Lab have invited FBI agents to visit the Internet casinos but the Bureau has not come up yet with a decision of the legality of this instance of virtual gambling. On one side - it's just a game. The game's currency is not adopted by any nation, and could be used as a tender only in the game and nowhere else. On the other side, Linden dollars are purchased using US dollars, which is enough for the company to be charged under the last year's UIGEA, as the company acts as a middle man by providing the financial means for the gambling to occur. And some anti-gambling statues already cover circumstances in which "something of value" is wagered, and not just currency.

According to the vice president of Linden Lab, Ginsu Yoon, the company have invited numerous times the FBI to come over, take a look and raise any concerns that they may have, but so far it is not clear to the law enforcement authorities which have been at Second Life if there is any type of crime being committed and on what grounds. Mr. Yoon comments that even if the legal grounds were clear, the company would have no means of stopping or even monitoring gambling in the game.

Either way, there are a few point which could be drawn from this story:

  • Gambling is a part of any society's values system - including virtual ones.
  • Gambling seems to be a big part of the entertainment industry - recent examples of gambling in video games include "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas" and "Scarface".
  • The US government has taken a firm anti-gambling stance without enough legal means of achieving their goal of wiping out anything but land-based gambling.
  • There will be more "funny" stories like this for us to publish and for you to "read and weep".


Second Life, Linden Lab, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas, Scarface are trademarks of their lawful owners.




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