Thursday, July 26, 2007
LL Says it will shutdown gambling
As of yesterday the top site on SL's popular places was a gambling palace. Today's announcement by LL on wagering effectively bans all casino games that pay in any kind of money, though it would allow wagering on games of skill such as pool in sl. It bans common objects such as sploders if interpretted strictly.
Having worked for a casino at one time, and having a personal affection for casino and gambling culture, (where would the underworld be without gambling? It is romantic and exciting) this news causes not only a twang of regret, but the prediction that there is now an open market for an SL competitor, namely one that complies with online gaming restrictions and offers virtual reality gambling. Many people are out hundreds and thousands of dollars for VGA poker tables, which are now effectively illegal on SL.
On the other hand, I have seen a great deal of crooked gambling on SL. This is the problem we face here over and over again: there is nothing that can be done honestly, that can't be done more profitably as well as a scam. Sell something? Camping farms sell shoddy goods at the same price. I've seen freebie skins sold for prices that would make Lost and Amby blush. Honset gaming at honest rates of return is profitable enough.
I want there to be gambling and wagering in a virtual life, very much because some of the most profitable times of my sl career were working high rollers. These are men who appreciate fine pleasures and are willing to pay for them. However, it must be honest gambling. Roulette tables that never pay off, games that pay out only 30% of the money taken in, camping farms that pay shills to win while genuine wagers are raked into the abyss, are bad for SL, and bad for virtual life in general.
While this draconian policy fills me with regret, it is also, sadly where we are right now.
But within such a problem comes an opportunity: comply with rl laws on gaming, have a gaming board for sl that tracks compliance, and set legal payout limits. The reason this is necessary is that the person running a table has all the information, the player cannot inspect the script to see if it is clean, or whether it chooses numbers which, while they will be random over time, or seem to be, are actually calculated to return the most possible money. It is easy enough to do: milk people when there are bets on the table, and then balance out those numbers when it doesn't matter. I went to one gaming palace and put 1L on red 10 straight times. The number came up black 10 straight times. That reeks of crooked. There were games whose announced odds were rapacious.
But unless we are willing to have the responsibility of assuring people of a fair product, the bad wheels will drive out the good. As, sadly, they have. Camping and gambling were swamping the top 20, and this also allows us to go back to having content of some real kind be provided by sl.
I went to the Belgium 1&2 locations, and to Reef Islands. Belgium was a confused welter of people looking for gaming tables, asking questions as to what happened.
miniads Caos two huge gaming locations, Reef Islands and Saffron, are both still up and taking bets.
#1 Charm's fun center is down.
#2 D&A skin center's casino is down is down.
#3 IceDragon's tables were still in place in the high roller room, and taking money.
#4 Most of the tables in Golden Rose were gone, but there were som "Devil May Care" machines in place.
#5 Ocean Casino is closed, the owners have announced that they are going from half to a quarter sim.
#6 Italian gaming was the site of a small "keep SL gaming legal demonstration." They accused SL hysterically of becoming socialist and a police state. Dears, socialism on SL is called camping, and it is run, badly, by private entities.
#7 Had parcels of campers, but no gaming.
#8 Bellagio VIP had blackjack tables open and taking money.
#9 Was an empty lot.
#10 Liberta had camping and raffle machines working.
#11 have their machines inside a protected parcel, no one was there. The machines are working and taking money.
12 Monkeys, which while not in the top ten in any one parcel, has an total between all that would make it a top 20 destination had escort ads, but its gaming tables were all removed.
So the final score is that of the 15 locations I visted, covering both the top 20 sites and the top 15 hits for gaming, 7 were still running at this hour.
I felt like I was in a scene out of some disaster moving, I kept running into the same faces searching for gaming. I found people who asked me what there was to do. One was an rl artist, I said I would help her get started selling art in sl.
Another bit of old sl is dying, but it is a collision. Content providers can't have complete obscurity of product, with customers have assurance they are getting what they are buying, and having a completely hands off government. Since LL is not going to sudden become a good government, now or ever, and complete obscurity is built into the property system, that means that the customer will have to go rl for any enforcement of rights for how they spend their money.
And that, in this case, means the end of gaming on sl as we have known it.