What is this article about?
Linden Lab announced on July 10th, 2014 that they’re implementing Skill Gaming Regions in Second Life. There’s a link to the official announcement below, but this is a brief summary of why our games no longer include any prize options (betting or buy-ins or other money functions of any kind).
- Starting on September 1st, 2014, any game that has the ability to pay money out (whether you use the option or not) may only be rezzed and operated in special Skill Gaming Regions.
- Skill Gaming Regions are a new type of region that cost an extra $50/mo (so, $349/mo) to have now.
- If you’re paying the current rate of $299/mo for your region, this will cost an additional $600/year.
- If you’re paying the grandfathered rate of $199/mo for regions that have been around since 2006 or earlier, then this will cost an additional $1800/year.
- Anyone wishing to create and sell games that have a payout option must now go through an approval process, requiring both an up-front application fee and quarterly licensing fees every 3 months after that. The application process includes the requirement to hire an attorney licensed in the state/country that you live in to prepare a sworn affidavit for each game individually that you wish to sell that declares it is legal under that state’s laws. This affidavit must be submitted to Linden Lab along with an additional review fee per game for approval before the game can be sold. The game can then only be sold to approved operators (below).
- Anyone wishing to own and operate a game with payout options must also seek a sworn affidavit from an attorney where they reside, declaring that they are legal to operate in that state. This affidavit must be submitted to Linden Lab along with an application fee and quarterly licensing fees every 3 months as well. You may then only buy approved games from approved creators and rez them only in approved Skill Gaming Regions.
- Furthermore, online gambling is not legal in all states or countries. If you are a resident of one of the 10 states in the US currently prohibited, you may not even enter a Skill Gaming Region, much less own or operate games. See the links below for a list of prohibited states/countries.
Why are they doing this?
The current prevailing theory is that Linden Lab is coming under pressure from governments to reign in all of the illegal gambling that is occurring in Second Life. Second Life has been something of the Wild West Frontier since it started, and it was only a matter of time before regulatory agencies started questioning what we do here.
Will I still be able to play my games?
Yes! I (Karsten Rutledge) will not be pursing approved creator status for the time being, because it is simply too expensive with no benefit. 1.6% of all K.R. Engineering games played to completion in the first half of 2014 involved money. The tiny percentage of people making use of the money functions is not worth the enormous expense of trying to get Linden Lab to approve Greedy Greedy at this time. Because people in prohibited states/countries may not even enter a skilled gaming region, I would be forced to have two stores, on two regions. One store on my current region to sell games that have no money options, and one store on a Skill Gaming Region to sell games that DO have money options. This is a cost of $4200/year for me for a second sim (before licensing fees are even included, potentially making it as much as $5000/year), to sell to a handful of people that may be able to complete the Approved Operator process. That is not even counting fees for hiring an attorney to prepare sworn affidavits for my games. It’s an expense that I simply would not be able to break even on ever. At this point, even if I lose some sales from not having approved games, I’m still way ahead financially.
To that end, I will be issuing updates for all of my games to remove all money functions from them. No betting and no buy-ins. With money functions removed, my games will no longer be subject to the Skill Gaming Policy, and may be rezzed anywhere by anyone, because they do not use money.
What do I need to do?
Just update your K.R. Engineering games, that is all! On or after September 1st, 2014, make sure you update your games before playing them. Updates are free and easy, and should only taken 5 minutes at most. Below is a list of games that are currently in compliance with the Skill Gaming Policy, and the minimum version number you must use to not be in violation of Linden Lab’s terms of service after September 1st, 2014. If you are unsure how to update your game, click on the game in the table below for game-specific instructions.
If you have a K.R. Engineering game which does not appear on this table, then it is automatically in compliance with the Skill Gaming Policy because it was either created after the policy was made or never contained any money options. The table below only shows games which must be updated to be brought into compliance.
|Game||Minimum Safe Version|
|Snakes and Ladders||v1.3|
What happens if I don’t update?
If you continue to use a game that has payout/prize options after September 1st, 2014 and you have not applied to be an Approved Skill Game Operator, then you are subject to disciplinary action by Linden Lab, including suspension or termination of your account as Linden Lab sees fit. We’ve made the updates available, but we cannot force you to update. If you choose to continue using an old table that is in violation of Linden Lab’s policy, then you are risking the integrity of your account.