Linden 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.