New regulations are afoot for skill gaming in Second Life. According to the new blog post, Linden Lab is revising its gaming policy. Gambling has always been, and will continue to be strictly prohibited by the TOS (Terms Of Service). Gambling is considered to be operating, or participating in, a game of chance that provides a Linden Dollar payout. However, there are many jurisdictions in SL where games of skill are legally permitted, and result in a payout of Linden Dollars. The difference being one is a game of chance (gambling) and a game of skill (winning Lindens for achievements).
Since the games of skill are becoming increasingly popular, Linden Lab has decided to update it’s TOS. Skill games that offer Linden Dollar payouts will still be allowed; however the new TOS dictate that these games will be limited to a specific Skill Gaming Regions only. Beginning August 1, 2014, this new region designation will be available for those SL residents wishing to convert their regions to Skill Gaming Regions.
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. Linden Lab states that “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.”
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. Linden Lab will maintain a public wiki page of operators.
Creators of skill games can apply to become an approved creator and to have their games approved beginning immediately. 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. Linden Lab will maintain a public wiki page of approved creators and their approved games of skill.
Residents need to meet relevant age requirements in order to access these new regions. 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 the controls will constitute a violation of the Skill Gaming Policy and Terms of Service.
The details of the revised policy can be found here, and this is a summary of how it will work:
• Skill games that offer Linden Dollar payouts will be allowed in Skill Gaming Regions only.
• Only operators approved by Linden Lab will be allowed to run skill games that offer Linden Dollar payouts on Skill Gaming Regions.
• 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.
• 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.
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.
These changes are effective as of August 1, 2014, and applications for approved creators and approved operators are now being accepted at Echosign.
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.
Linden Lab has created an FAQ page to address what are likely to be the most common questions at this point. They plan to update that as needed and will keep an eye on the forums and other community discussion channels so that LL can help clarify anything that might seem confusing as this update goes into effect.
Basically you need to comply with the age requirement, have payment on file in order to play the games, and ensure that the region and the games you are playing are authorized by Linden Lab.
ZoHa Islands has a strict policy against third party sims. We will not be applying for any of our sims to be authorized Skill Gamging sims because of the tight regulations, increased costs and there are many legal reasons that come into play. Thus if you currently are using any of ZoHa Islands land for skill gaming, they will have to be removed no later than August 1, 2014. Please see ZoHa Island management for further clarification.
I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers
ZoHa Islands Social Media manager