Lab announces skill gaming policy coming soon to Second Life

secondlifeLinden Lab has issued a blog post announcing that while gambling in Second Life will remain strictly prohibited within the platform, and that games of chance will remain a violation of the Second Life Terms of Service, games of skill are to be managed more closely within Second Life, and that the SL skill gaming policy has been updated to reflect this.

The changes are to come into effect from from August 1st, 2014, and applications are now open to those wishing to apply to become  approved creators and approved operators of games of skill within SL.

However, such games will be subject to strict control, as the blog post outlines:

  • Skill games that offer Linden Dollar payouts will be allowed in Skill Gaming Regions only. This is a new region designation that will apply beginning August 1, 2014. Those Second Life residents who wish to convert their regions to Skill Gaming Regions can do so by contacting Linden Lab in accordance with Linden Lab’s Land policy. Due to the additional administrative and compliance-related costs associated with these regions, the monthly maintenance fees will be greater than those for regular regions in Second Life. We will include Skill Gaming Regions as a new category in our Destination Guide (unless the owner requests its removal). As a resident, you will be able to check the setting of each region to verify that it has been recognized by Linden Lab for the placement, operation, and use of approved Skill Games.

  • Only operators approved by Linden Lab will be allowed to run skill games that offer Linden Dollar payouts on Skill Gaming Regions. Those wishing to become approved operators can apply now. Due to processing and compliance-related costs associated with maintaining this program, there is a one-time nonrefundable application fee as well as a quarterly license fee (waived through December 31, 2014, upon approval of an application) for those designated as approved operators. We will maintain a public wiki page of operators.

  • Creators of skill games that wish to make them available in Second Life may do so only through Skill Gaming Regions and only after the games have been approved by Linden Lab. Creators of skill games that offer Linden Dollar payouts can apply to become an approved creator and to have their games approved now. Due to processing and compliance-related costs associated with maintaining this program, there is a one-time nonrefundable application fee as well as a quarterly license fee (waived through December 31, 2014, upon approval of an application) for those designated as approved creators. We will maintain a public wiki page of approved creators and their approved games of skill.

  • Access to Skill Gaming Regions will be restricted to Second Life users who are of sufficient age and are located in a jurisdiction that Linden Lab permits for this kind of online gaming activity. If you are in a permitted jurisdiction and you meet the relevant age requirements, you will be able to access these regions just like any in Second Life. If you are not eligible, you will receive an error message.  However, you are responsible for knowing which jurisdictions are prohibited and the requisite ages of participation and not attempting to access a Skill Gaming Region if you do not qualify.  Attempts to circumvent our controls will constitute a violation of our Skill Gaming Policy and Terms of Service.

In summary, skill games that offer Linden Dollar payouts will be allowed in Second Life, but each game, its creator, its operator, and the region on which it is operated must be approved by Linden Lab.

Those wishing to apply to become approved creators and approved operators of games of skill / Skill Game Regions can apply to the Lab now via Echosign.

For those wishing to play such games of skill, the Lab additionally notes:

If you live in a jurisdiction where gaming is permitted and you plan on playing these games in Skill Gaming Regions in Second Life, you should not need to do anything differently. However, adding payment information on file now is a good way to ensure you’re able to play as soon as Skill Gaming Regions are live.

Also, The Lab as created a FAQ page to address the most common questions arising from this move, and have established a Skill Gaming thread on the forums where additional questions can be asked and hopefully addressed.

For further information, please refer to the blog post, the forum thread and the official FAQ.

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13 thoughts on “Lab announces skill gaming policy coming soon to Second Life

  1. Shug Maitland

    At first read I thought LL was loosening the games police. Upon reflection, this is greatly restricting it. The grid is full of games requiring only a little skill and a lot of luck which will now be regulated. On the far end of the scale, are things like money trees games?
    Sounds to me like the lawyers responding to RL regulation.

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    1. Inara Pey Post author

      It’s attempting to more clearly separate games of skill from games of chance and provide a means by which the former can be managed and regulated without slipping into the the latter. As you rightly say, physical world regulations and requirements probably play a role here. However, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the requirements, etc., might have a secondary purpose of trying to attract custom from outside SL …

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    2. Shirley Marquez

      I don’t think money trees are games because the people withdrawing money from the trees don’t have to pay to play; the trees just dispense money for free. Many of the trees accept donations but the expectation is that the people withdrawing money (typically restricted to new residents) and the people donating money are not the same.

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    1. Shirley Marquez

      The entire sim must be designated a Skill Gaming region and access will be restricted to people who can get into such regions. There is no requirement that only skill gaming activities can take place on the sim, though if your games are popular you’re aren’t likely to want to have your private residence in the same laggy region.

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      1. secondroblem

        Thanks. Yes found it in the faq: Maintenance fees for Skill Gaming Regions will be $345/month. I have 4 sims but the 2 main sims are primarily shopping and the other 2 are opensims so I guess I’d be looking getting another full sim just for this and I can’t really float another full sim while this all gets going. See how it pans out I guess.

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  2. Cyn Surly

    I am a noob so forgive my noobish question but how are games like greedy or those luck of the Irish or other bingo type games not games of chance?

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    1. secondroblem

      All this a bit open to interpretation, likely why they are looking to get attorneys involved at this point but here is how I see it. Something like a slot machine is 100% pure chance, other than putting the money in and pulling the handle you have no ability to influence the outcome. A game like chess is 100% skill, there are no random elements. Now the new game standard includes “outcome is determined by skill and is not contingent, in whole or in material part, upon chance”. So do these other games that are skirting by what is legal now make the new standard? I seriously doubt it.

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  3. Cinder Biscuits (@DropDeadCinder)

    There’s no “coming soon” to skill gaming in Second Life. Skill gaming has existed since the beginning and it was the only loophole for game owners to continue to operate after the gambling ban. Now Linden Lab has decided, under pressure from PayPal most likely, to stomp it out. You’re less likely to see new games and new arcades than ever before because content creators have to jump through hoops and pay to have their games reviewed and approved by the lab before they can even sell one game! Welcome to the lab’s new Blue Mars-style content creation policies.

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    1. Inara Pey Post author

      Yes, fully aware that skills games have been around for a while, thank you. Was a slip-up in the titling of the article in trying not to mirror LL’s announcement.

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