I go on vacation for just a week (and a couple days) and all heck breaks loose. In this case, the heck broke loose and fell from the grid. Chance gambling (poker, keno and the like) for money or such is now against the TOS in Second Life.
I’m surprised by the significant polarization between the pro and con factions of gambling, but even more suprised by some of the arguments I’ve seen that are used to support those positions. First, I need to say that I am generally opposed to gambling because there is seldom a method by which those that are susceptible to addiction can be kept from being controlled by that addiction. Second, I believe that people should be allowed to do as they wish as long as they do not entrench upon the rights of others. If there is some social responsibility in the gambling establishment, a way for people to have their losses limited and a way to ensure the fairness of the gaming, then I feel that gambling, in and of itself, should not be arbitrarily banned. But . . .
The servers that Second Life runs on are within the United States. Linden Labs is a company operating within the United States. Therefore, they are subject to the laws of the United States. The original TOS said that residents must obey by their local laws. True. But Linden Labs must also do so. If the United States says that it is illegal to house Internet gambling on their systems, then they must abide by that. I have no problem with this and I support their decision to ban such gambling.
I’ve seen people complain that the ban is unfair because they are located in country X and their customer is in country Y and online gambling is legal in those countries, so it should be allowed. This doesn’t change the fact that the software that does the gambling operation is running on a computer in the United States. In the country I am from, one cannot own a computer on which online gambling is being run. For example, ABC company, based in my city, owns a server farm in Costa Rica. That server farm hosts online gambling. ABC company would be breaking the law. But if DEF company owns the server farm and ABC company provides software development and support for the gambling software, that is permitted. Go figure.
Laws don’t always make sense. They are not always consistent. But they are laws and we must abide by them even if we chose to challenge them in court or through other means available to us. That’s part of what lobbyists do in the US. Senators and members of Congress can work to change the system. But, if a company contravenes the laws to which it is subjected, it faces the possibility of going out of business. Hardly what many users of Second Life would want.
I’ve seem people say that Second Life has stepped onto a slippery slope. They suggest it is just a matter of time before other behaviours are banned. Well, if it is illegal for Linden Labs to harbour such activities, then they probably will be. Sucks, but that is the way it is. To blame Linden Labs because of their compliance with their local laws makes no sense. Nor do many of the arguments that proceed along this line. Guns, for example. People have said it is just a matter of time before shooting with guns in SL is banned. Hogwash. Shooting people inappropriately has always been against the TOS. But, in an RP sim, where players consent to the activity, there is no difference between that and playing Battlefield on your computer. Nor is there any significant difference between that and paintball in real life. Those aren’t illegal, so it is very, very unlikely they will be banned in SL.
Linden Labs made the appropriate decision even if it is an unpopular one. Yes, there will be people who leave. That is their decision. There will be those who now say “What now?” and then go learn all the other fun activities available to them. There are tonnes of things to do: skydiving (shameless plug: try my steampunk skydiving lift in SteamSkyCity), sailing, exploring, meeting people from all parts of the planet with differing or similar views of life, learning, building, etc . . . . When I first started on SL, I thought that the whole world consisted of gambling and sex, but soon found that to be a very small part. I’ve met people that I would never have met anywhere else. I’ve made friends and have had a lot of fun, all of it without online gambling or sex (hey, I just got RL married and am totally committed to my new bride, so SL sex just seems strange to me).
Of course, now I’m just waiting for the casino land to go for sale at bargain basement prices!