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FBI Examines Second Life Casinos

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the checking-under-the-hood dept.

The Almighty Buck 104

UnanimousCoward writes "Yahoo! is running an article reporting that Second Life has invited the FBI to tour their casinos. Under the theory that they may have some objections, Linden wanted to make sure that everything was on the up and up. The FBI has apparently taken them up on the offer, but will not comment on their conclusion. With the recent US crackdown on Internet gambling, visits to Second Life casinos have increased (using Linden dollars that can be exchanged for real currency). 'Most lawyers agree that placing bets with Linden dollars likely violates US anti-gambling statutes, which cover circumstances in which something of value is wagered. But the degree of Linden Lab's responsibility, and the likelihood of a any crackdown, is uncertain.'"

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Why the FBI and NOT the nevada gaming commission? (0)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18611831)

the NGC is likely better at testing casino games.

Re:Why the FBI and NOT the nevada gaming commissio (2, Insightful)

Flentil (765056) | more than 7 years ago | (#18611877)

You have a good point, but I think they might be a little biased. More people gambling in second life could mean less people flying to vegas to get their gambling fix.

Re:Why the FBI and NOT the nevada gaming commissio (0)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612051)

there are other states with river boats casinos but the NGC likely is better at checking those things out then the sates that only have a few riverboats. Also the vegas casinos want to run there own on line casinos in the usa.

There are also Indian casinos that are in parts of the usa

Re:Why the FBI and NOT the nevada gaming commissio (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18611987)

Because they aren't concerned with whether the casino games conform to Nevada gaming codes, they are concerned that they might be breaking Federal law and getting all their servers seized.

Re:Why the FBI and NOT the nevada gaming commissio (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612483)

Heh, they should make the FBI agents come in the game with appropriate avatars, i.e. shirts with an FBI-logo texture. And then when they play one of the scripted "give me money for a chance to win" devices, they can "seize" the object. :-P

I remember back when I still played in '03 (I'm probably still counted in the usage stats...) I scripted some listening bugs to eavesdrop on people. Maybe I could sell them to the FBI?

Could some explain how one places a bet? (2, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612939)

I can't fathom how this even begins to work. How does someone "set up" a casino in second life. When the player and the house engage, I assume there must be some sort of "escrow" function where the players enter a contract for some transaction. In this case the transaction must be conditioned on the outcome of some random number generator. Where does that generator live?

Assuming that what a casino consists of is the coupling of an escrowed transaction and a random number generator then I would imagine that a casino looks like this

1) Person A contracts to buy one item from a market basket of goods for X dollars
2) the market basket is filled with a sample of goods that differ slightly. These might for example be good apples and rotten apples. Sometimes the buyer gets a bad apple. Sometimes they get a good one.
3) a random number generator provided by second life determines which apple they get.

Now substitute 2X dollars for good apples and 0 dollars for bad apples and we have a casino.

If this is all there is to it then all linden needs is the following logic
1) if an escrowed transactions occurs
        2) if the outcome of the transaction is random
              3) if both parts of the escrow are Linden Dollars
Then this is gambling.

How hard could that be?

Re:Could some explain how one places a bet? (2, Interesting)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613057)

I'm unfamiliar with SL scripting, but from my MUSH days I suspect it goes more like this:

1. Person A inserts fixed amount of money into a machine.
2. Machine rolls a random number and determines the payout.
3. Machine returns an amount of money to the player. ...where there is no "escrow" step at which Big Brother can examine the entire transaction and see if it looks like gambling. There are just individual payments: money goes in, stuff happens, and later money comes out.

Re:Could some explain how one places a bet? (2, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613197)

I'm unfamiliar with SL scripting, but from my MUSH days I suspect it goes more like this:

1. Person A inserts fixed amount of money into a machine.

2. Machine rolls a random number and determines the payout.

3. Machine returns an amount of money to the player. ...where there is no "escrow" step at which Big Brother can examine the entire transaction and see if it looks like gambling. There are just individual payments: money goes in, stuff happens, and later money comes out.
Well Okay different terminology but same effect. The machine is a "trusted" escrow device because it's functional, albeit random, is pre-agreed between the parties. i.e. The owner of the machine can't affect it's outcome after the first party has paid.

Now my set of conditionals still holds.
1) if the output of a machine is money
      2) if the input of the machine was money
        3) if there is a call to a random number generator inside the machine
it is gambling.

If linden imposed such a test how woul dthis break second life?

Thinking about this a second here is one such thing that would break
A juke box that plays random songs for 1 dollar
1) player inserts a 5 dollar bill
2) machine makes change and out puts 4 dollarrs
3) machine randomly selects song.

But this could be patched by inventing a change machine so the player could get exact change.

Okay now step two. perhaps this could test could be voided if the casionos used "chips" instead of cash. then the output/input is chips. and a separate machine redeems them.

That must be the problem. Right?

Re:Could some explain how one places a bet? (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613349)

Now my set of conditionals still holds.
1) if the output of a machine is money
            2) if the input of the machine was money
                3) if there is a call to a random number generator inside the machine
it is gambling.

If linden imposed such a test how woul dthis break second life?
I don't think the problem is that it would break SL. The problem is that this test is impossible to enforce. For example:

1. Player puts money into Machine A.
2. Machine A sends an activation signal to Machine B.
3. Machine B rolls a random number and transmits it to Machine C.
4. Machine C determines the payout amount and gives it to the player.

A human can analyze the code easily enough and figure out what's going on, but an automated system couldn't really do it - especially when you consider that in a world with virtual physics, machines can communicate through physical interactions (dropping rocks on each other) rather than easily traced scripting calls.

Re:Could some explain how one places a bet? (1)

Jonathan_S (25407) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622219)

Now my set of conditionals still holds.
1) if the output of a machine is money
            2) if the input of the machine was money
                3) if there is a call to a random number generator inside the machine
it is gambling.
I'd argue that it is only gambling if the output can potentially exceed the input.

I considered phrasing it as,
3) if there is a call to a random number generator where that call affects the output
it is gambling.

But realized that your jukebox example could be modified so this was true, and yet still not gambling. (i.e. some song are $1 and some are $2, a song is randomly selected, and your change depends on the cost of the random song)

But to my mind that isn't really gambling because there is no possibility to "win".

Re:Could some explain how one places a bet? (1)

pyrote (151588) | more than 7 years ago | (#18614489)


1. Person A inserts fixed amount of money into a machine.
2. Machine rolls a random number and determines the payout.
3. Machine returns an amount of money to the player. ...where there is no "escrow" step at which Big Brother can examine the entire transaction and see if it looks like gambling. There are just individual payments: money goes in, stuff happens, and later money comes out.


you actually hit it on the head... but the trick is, the money is paid directly to the owner of the machine, then paid out IF the player wins.
Similar to relinquishing a token to a machine, it becomes the houses token, then if they win, they are paid an appropriate amount form the machine(if the machine has tokens and doesn't screw up, in which case, the house reserves the right to deny payment at all if they wish)

One big problem I have found is it is VERY easy to make the machines not pay out... also the odds are adjustable to VERY unfair levels.
so basically all you can do is game with friends and hope they can back a payout....
Oh ya, if they don't have the Lindens (in game money) it won't pay the jackpot.

The biggest problem the FBI is probably looking at, is there is no regulation. I could make a box look like a machine, run a random set of symbols across it, then just reply "nope sorry you lost. please play again"

This is one reason I keep my money in my account not theirs :)

Re:Could some explain how one places a bet? (1)

AlHunt (982887) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613393)

>3) if both parts of the escrow are Linden Dollars
>Then this is gambling.

Does Linden Labs trade in Linden Dollars for real dollars? If not, then as far as L. Labs would be concerned, there is no real value. L. Labs really can't help it if some 3rd parties are trading Linden Dollars for real money.

Re:Could some explain how one places a bet? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18614011)

Now of course if Linden Labs staff or management(including friends and associates) start getting involved in the trade in any way shape or form, then that is a whole different story. Generally when they get this smug, they can often end up looking quite foolish.

Re:Could some explain how one places a bet? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#18616377)

Well, third parties trade Lindon Dollars for US Dollars, but they do it on the Lindon designed and operated trading system. A big part of SL is that if you make enough in-game money, you can convert it to real money and actually make a living off of it. There is an in-game auction system where people put their Lindon Dollars up for sale and other people use real money to buy them. That real money (minus a percentage) gets transferred to the person who put the Lindon Dollars up. Outside of the fees, LL will sometimes create a big wad of Lindon dollars to put on the auction site for a quick cash infusion and to keep the price of the Lindon Dollar from spiking relative to the US dollar.

I'm looking forward to gambling in 2nd life (2, Funny)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18611849)

I think I could win against a punch of 7 foot tall wieners at the poker table.

Re:I'm looking forward to gambling in 2nd life (2)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18611897)

I think I could win against a punch of 7 foot tall wieners at the poker table.

err..

I think I could win against a bunch of 7 foot tall wieners at the poker table.

Re:I'm looking forward to gambling in 2nd life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18612127)

yeah, because that makes much more sense.

O_o

Re:I'm looking forward to gambling in 2nd life (1)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612151)

lol

its a freaking game!!! (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18611857)

What the hell is going on with this nonsense? Don't we have better things to do with our tax dollars, like umm protecting our borders or preventing another local attack?

geesh.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18611903)

Well letting people in the usa get a way with a fixed casino game is ok what if they took your money with there being no way for you to win it back.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (0, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613037)

If you gamble, you risk losing all your money by the very definition.

If you are stupid enough to do it, you deserve to have it taken away.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (2, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613151)

It's one thing if you can win but when it is fixed so that you can't then it is not gambling.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18615257)

Indeed - at that point it's just a scam. You can't really apply the whole "if you're stupid enough to gamble.." argument there.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618189)

You can't really apply the whole "if you're stupid enough to gamble.." argument there.

Yes you can. Gambling is just a scam anyway - sure, it's a scam that certain people find entertaining. But the maths is always on the side of the house.

Yes, there are certain games that can be won with a degree of skill. But the vast majority of casino gamblers do not have that skill, and if they do exhibit it, the house will refuse to play with them.

Does the entertainment value of gambling represent a fair payback for your losses? Well, that's up to the individual to decide. The problem I see is that most of the thrill of gambling stems from a misunderstanding of statistics - the gamer has an inflated perception of his chances of winning, which the casino does everything to reinforce. If people truly understood the statistics, they'd either all be very good (and the casino would fold), or they wouldn't game in the first place.

Are you thrilled to pay your taxes? No, because you perceive it as giving your money away. The reality is that you are far more likely to get something of value back for the money though.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622111)

You fail, again, to realize that the very definition of gambling includes a CHANCE to win. Everyone knows the payouts are low on gambling and lottery tickets, but someone WILL win, and you're playing for your fair chance to win.

By calling something "gambling" and simply *never* paying out, you're scamming.

The taxes analogy is just stupid.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612015)

What the hell is going on with this nonsense? Don't we have better things to do with our tax dollars, like umm protecting our borders or preventing another local attack?

This comment is as non-insightful as when someone says "What are you assholes doing working on firefox when linux iptables still has a hole" or whatever.

Are you proposing that all law enforcement personnel nationwide drop everything they are doing and focus on preventing terrorism?

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612209)

Are you proposing that all law enforcement personnel nationwide drop everything they are doing and focus on preventing terrorism?

Sure. Not that I think they'd have any much change of success, mind you, but it might occupy them enought to keep them away from things they have no business getting involved in (such as the topic of this article). It'd be nice to see law enforcement focused on defense of life and property for a change instead of victimless "crimes" like illicit drugs and online gambling.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612397)

victimless "crimes" like illicit drugs and online gambling
Yes, because everyone knows that drugs and gambling have never caused any harm to anyone.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612781)

Nice try, Mr. Strawman.

Lots of things have caused harm to people, and yet they're still legal. Alcohol, driving, guns. Gambling is certainly no worse than any of these!

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612849)

Lots of things have caused harm to people, and yet they're still legal. Alcohol, driving, guns.


Yes, things that are legal and cause harm may not be "victimless", but they aren't crimes.

Gambling is certainly no worse than any of these!


Whether it is worse than any of those things (and, I'd say, its pretty clearly worse in terms of harm:utility ratio than driving, but that's another discussion) is irrelevant to the question of whether it is fairly described as a "victimless crime."

That it is not "worse" than other things which may have victims but are not crimes does not establish that it is a victimless crime. It may be useful as part of an argument that it, despite not being victimless, ought not to be a crime, but you'd need more than you've presented to make that argument.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (2, Interesting)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613243)

That it is not "worse" than other things which may have victims but are not crimes does not establish that it is a victimless crime. It may be useful as part of an argument that it, despite not being victimless, ought not to be a crime, but you'd need more than you've presented to make that argument.
Typically, for the purposes of deciding whether an act is a "victimless crime", we ignore the person committing the act, on the principle that the kind of "victims" we're concerned about are unwilling, innocent victims.

In that context it's easy to see that gambling is indeed victimless. If I go to a casino and play a hand of blackjack, who's the victim? Not me; I committed the act with full knowledge of the possible consequences and willingly accepted them. Not the casino; they're playing willingly, under mutually agreed rules which are, in fact, tilted in their favor. There is no one else affected by the act, so we can conclude that it's victimless.

Now, some proponents of the idea that gambling has a victim might bring up extreme scenarios: "What if you spend all your money at the casino and you can't buy food for your kids? Aren't they victims?" But of course in that scenario, the reason you don't have any money is because you chose to spend it all, not because the casino made you give it to them. You could just as easily have spent it all on comic books, stocks, gym memberships, vacation timeshares, or Pez dispensers from eBay, with exactly the same outcome... the children in that scenario are victims of your reckless spending, not of gambling.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613569)

Typically, for the purposes of deciding whether an act is a "victimless crime", we ignore the person committing the act, on the principle that the kind of "victims" we're concerned about are unwilling, innocent victims.

In that context it's easy to see that gambling is indeed victimless. If I go to a casino and play a hand of blackjack, who's the victim? Not me; I committed the act with full knowledge of the possible consequences and willingly accepted them.


If you are a compulsive gambler, its arguable whether or not you freely accepted the risks, because its arguable whether you had actual capacity to refrain. Still, one could still view criminalizing the individual gambler as punishing victimless crime, but as gambling doesn't require a distinct "house" to occur, without punishing the gambler, you can't deal with the potential victimization of gambling systematically without criminalizing all participants, with a greater focus on those that a clearly gambling "establishments".

Of course, dealing with harms to particular "victims" isn't even theoretically the purpose of criminal law, that's the purpose of civil law; preventing general social harm is the point of criminal law, which is why criminal prosecutions are conducted in the name of the state, not the purportedly injured party. This is also why many criminal laws criminalize, and seek thereby to discourage, behavior to which harm to uninvolved third parties frequently (or perhaps even less frequently, where the harm is serious) results, even if it is not part of the essence of the act.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

Some_Llama (763766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18614179)

"If you are a compulsive gambler, its arguable whether or not you freely accepted the risks, because its arguable whether you had actual capacity to refrain."

So then we are talking about addiction, is there anyone who thinks that incarceration is a better solution that therapy?

"and seek thereby to discourage, behavior to which harm to uninvolved third parties frequently"

And if we can agree therapy is a better deterrent/solution to addiction than incarceration, then why are we criminalizing gambling, drugs, etc?

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18615599)

If you are a compulsive gambler, its arguable whether or not you freely accepted the risks, because its arguable whether you had actual capacity to refrain.
Well, you still made the initial choice to start gambling, and you chose not to get help when you recognized you had a problem. You can't walk through a casino without seeing information about Gamblers Anonymous at every turn.

There's a concept called the "eggshell skull rule" which basically says that if your actions harm someone, you're responsible even if you couldn't predict the extent of the harm based on what you knew at the time - e.g. if you slap someone in the head, not knowing that his skull is as brittle as an eggshell, you're in trouble even though the slap wouldn't have harmed an average person.

Now, suppose we extend that a little. If you're prone to compulsive gambling, but you don't know it yet, and you go into a casino, play those first few hands, get hooked, and five years down the line your kids are starving... aren't you still ultimately responsible for that harm? The compulsion was in your head all along, and getting it treated is your responsibility; it wasn't put there by the casino or the cards. You lost control somewhere in the middle, but it all began with a choice you made of your own free will.

preventing general social harm is the point of criminal law, which is why criminal prosecutions are conducted in the name of the state, not the purportedly injured party. This is also why many criminal laws criminalize, and seek thereby to discourage, behavior to which harm to uninvolved third parties frequently (or perhaps even less frequently, where the harm is serious) results, even if it is not part of the essence of the act.
Indeed. However, the vast majority of gambling does not result in harm to third parties, and the vast majority of people are not compulsive gamblers. The harm, while it might be serious, is quite rare, and in order to preserve the freedom of everyone else, it's best dealt with by identifying compulsive gamblers and getting them help, rather than criminalizing gambling altogether. We've all seen plenty of evidence that prohibition only makes things worse.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18620507)

You can't walk through a casino without seeing information about Gamblers Anonymous at every turn.

This is only true in jurisdictions which require it. Otherwise you usually see one or two signs, near the cashier's cage or player's club. Sometimes other signs are sprinkled around, but they are usually small and specifically designed to be visually unstimulating, in opposition to everything else in the building which is engineered (sometimes literally!) to draw the eye.

While the issue of whether criminalizing gambling is a good thing or not is, I think, an interesting discussion, there are actually two ways the state can get involved with a gambling operation. One is prohibition; the other is regulation. By Gaming Commission rules (generally state law) players have a right to expect a certain hold percentage, etc etc. So the machines are checked carefully to make sure that they are running proper code, the code is checked to make sure it accurately enforces hold, et cetera.

I am against outlawing gambling on second life, but I would not be opposed to regulation.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18620705)

This is only true in jurisdictions which require it. Otherwise you usually see one or two signs, near the cashier's cage or player's club. Sometimes other signs are sprinkled around, but they are usually small and specifically designed to be visually unstimulating, in opposition to everything else in the building which is engineered (sometimes literally!) to draw the eye.
Fair enough. I've only gambled in Las Vegas and Washington, so I don't know how it is elsewhere. Still, I don't believe there's anyone who doesn't realize that compulsive gambling is dangerous or wouldn't be able to find help if they cared to, even where the signs aren't as prominent as they are elsewhere.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18620875)

Still, I don't believe there's anyone who doesn't realize that compulsive gambling is dangerous or wouldn't be able to find help if they cared to, even where the signs aren't as prominent as they are elsewhere.

Regardless of how many steps you're taking, realizing that you have a problem is only the first step. You then have to go on and do something about it. I know a woman who grew up with a compulsive gambler for a father... Rags, to riches, to rags, to riches, until the family unit broke up, basically.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612979)

Correct. They have simply allowed people to harm themselves, which is far less of a law enforcement priority in the minds of reasonable people.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18621035)

You're right, so long as you ignore the families that now no longer can pay the mortgage because their mother gambled all the money away, the kids who no longer have a father because he ODed on coke, etc.

As someone with a father who died from a drug OD, fuck you for saying it has never harmed anyone else. You and all your "drugs aren't so bad, okay!" people make me sick, and are selfish assholes who can't see that they DO ruin the lives of innocents.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18621327)

You're right, so long as you ignore the families that now no longer can pay the mortgage because their mother gambled all the money away, the kids who no longer have a father because he ODed on coke, etc.
I guess you're ignoring the families that can no longer pay the mortgage because they spent their money on cars and dining out, the kids who no longer have a father because he died in a skiing accident, etc. Would you blame luxury cars and ski resorts for those tragedies?

As someone with a father who died from a drug OD, fuck you for saying it has never harmed anyone else. You and all your "drugs aren't so bad, okay!" people make me sick, and are selfish assholes who can't see that they DO ruin the lives of innocents.
Sorry, you're wrong (and an asshole). The substances themselves aren't bad; the pursuit of them at the expense of everything else is what's bad. Most people who use them don't fall into that trap. Sorry to hear about your dad, but the problem was in his head: he could've gotten treatment but presumably chose not to, and if it hadn't been drugs, he most likely would've found himself addicted to some other dangerous thrill.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18613085)

Why must we start from the pre-conceived notion that it's the governments job to protect people from themselves? Why is it more important to protect a degenerate gambler from throwing his life away than it is to protect the rights of everyone capable of setting limits for themselves?

And don't even go there on drugs...the black market for drugs created by their prohibition has ruined far more lives that it has saved. What gives the government the right to prevent someone from putting something in their own body? The government should, instead, be concerned with ensuring that proper and unbiased information on the effects of substances people are putting into their bodies exists and is readily available to everyone.

Instead, the government funds studies designed to show how likely you are to die from the substances they've banned (of which, half would not be illegal if they were patentable or had some established lobbying group *cough* nicotine *cough* alcohol *cough*) and locks up a large portion of its residents unnecessarily. The amount that this country could accomplish if they didn't turn so many people into a drain on public resources is unbelievable.

The problem with government is that they have a different notion of what the words "us" and "them" mean. While Americans persist in interpreting the "us" as Americans and the "them" as foreigners, the government interprets "us" as the privileged and "them" as the unprivileged, with no regard for national borders. As such, their policies protect their "us" rather than our "us." Too bad we only get to choose from tweedle-dumb and tweedle-dumber (in the good years...lately we've been saddled with tweedle-dumberer), both of whom have their own ideas on the best way to subjugate all the "them" that voted for them.

[/rant]

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613453)

I don't know about drugs, but I still don't see why gambling is outlawed in the vast majority of the USA. If I, as a rational adult, want to put some money on a game of chance, I should be able to. You cannot make a comparison between gambling and alcohol/drugs, because losing some money isn't going to physically impair me in any way.

As for the argument that gambling is used as a front for organized crime, well we already have racketeering and money laundering legislation to address that.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18616017)

> As for the argument that gambling is used as a front for organized crime, well we already have racketeering and money laundering legislation to address that.

The funny part of the story is that the Mafia-run NYC "numbers game" paid out better odds than the New York State lottery.

The only moral that can be drawn from the history of government regulation of gambling is: "Don't steal. The government hates competition."

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

dbitch (553938) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612225)

Well, if it's as bad as Dubya keeps saying it is, yes. If we have to suspend the right of habeus corpus, it's an emergency and they better damn well drop whatever they're doing and fix it. Wait, what's that I hear? It's not an emergency? Tell me why we're involved with a couple of wars again?

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612609)

Did i specifically say terrorism? No. Though i do admit that is part of the modern world, that is not the only threat, and is far down on the food chain of direct effect to our daily lives.

But yes, all our law enforcement people should be dealing with things that actually mean something. Wasting resources on a GAME is ludicrous.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 7 years ago | (#18616657)

What the hell is going on with this nonsense? Don't we have better things to do with our tax dollars, like umm protecting our borders or preventing another local attack?

This comment is as non-insightful as when someone says "What are you assholes doing working on firefox when linux iptables still has a hole" or whatever.


Are you proposing that all law enforcement personnel nationwide drop everything they are doing and focus on preventing terrorism?

Keep the false dichotomies out of this. Of course he didn't say that. He's just asking why they're bothering with this when there are far greater problems.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18620979)

One can only hope. I mean its not like not arresting suburban stoners is a treat to national security.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612089)

In other words: Why are we chasing those pink elephants when we could be hunting purple unicorns?!?

Re:its a freaking game!!! (2, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612505)

"its a freaking game!!!"

Yes but lets not forget that capitalist economy must be protected from threats (i.e. places that suck up money from the economy in which there is a FIXED amount of money).

The whole "gambling crackdown" is about the integrity of an economy with a fixed money supply, and gambling sites do suck up money and money pools there under the guise of people hoping to get rich, which does have real effects on the economy. The government is a capitalist nazi, in Canada you cannot leave the country for too much time or you will be cut off from social assistance for instance. Why exactly would they have that? Because money is leaking from the economy (not staying at home).

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

bnenning (58349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18615365)

The whole "gambling crackdown" is about the integrity of an economy with a fixed money supply, and gambling sites do suck up money and money pools there under the guise of people hoping to get rich

As opposed to state-run lotteries? Gambling is no more wasteful than any other form of entertainment. At best, that's an argument for allowing and regulating domestic gambling sites. And some games like poker shouldn't even be called "gambling", because over a sufficient time period results are determined more by skill than luck, and if you play well you can have a positive expectation.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

suffe (72090) | more than 7 years ago | (#18617841)

+3 Interesting? Come on! What do you people think happens to the money? They put them in a hole in the ground, never to be seen anymore? Not that even that would matter. You could set money on fire and in the end, the economy as such doesn't suffer. There are other drawbacks like a currency shortage if you burn enough, but really.

The money just changes hands. There is no inherently bad thing about this. The money keeps spinning around in the economic system and gets spent/invested just like anything else. Over and over and over again. What is next? A post that explains how evil banks are for being black holes of the economy, hoarding all our coins in their pockets.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18623581)

"The money just changes hands. There is no inherently bad thing about this. "

Bullshit. You obviously do not understand the truth about maintaining the integrity of an economy, especially a capitalist economy, people can fuck with and manipulate the market and these have very real effects on economic (i.e. power distribution) throughout the world. Look at the policies implemented to prevent "current leakage" (i.e. flow of capital out of the country). The truth is money is energy.

1) The money supply is limited (let me repeat that for you) THE MONEY SUPPLY IS LIMITED.
2) While money supply may contract or expand the only thing that matters in the economy is the purchasing power ratios and
your accumulated capital since the actual value of money is useless, its the power ratio that matters.
3) Anywhere in the economy where money pools and is not being recirculated or is draining money from local economies (not being invested in labor, etc) causes a host of social and other problems. There is a reason why government and intelligence agencies go after certain economic powers within the economy: To maintain economic integrity.

You obviously know nothing about the threats to markets integrity.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623821)

No, you come on... market integrity is a must... witness:

"For example, statutory and regulatory requirements designed to detect and deter fraud and cheating of market participants, such as those relating to exchange audit trails, competitive trading and open pricing, would cease to exist. Many of the customer protections currently in place were added by Congress in 1992 after the 1989 FBI-CFTC investigation revealed the existence of widespread cheating of customers -- including large institutional customers -- in the pits of the Chicago exchanges. The 1992 legislation added tougher audit trail standards, dual trading prohibitions, exchange governance requirements, floor trader registration requirements, and ethics training requirements. None of these protections would be required for the professional markets envisioned in the pending legislation.

The proposed professional markets provision also sweeps away many regulatory tools designed to safeguard market integrity. There would be no Commission surveillance of the professional markets, and requirements such as speculative position limits, large trader reporting, and exchange recordkeeping would be eliminated. Thus, the Commission would not have the data to analyze aberrational price movements on the markets, including suspected price manipulation. Exchanges also would not be subject to any of the current legal standards relating to their contracts, rules or governance. "

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613091)

> its a freaking game!!!

Are you talking about real-life casinos, Second Life casinos, or both?

Personally, I think it's absurd for gaming in either physical casinos or virtual casinos to be illegal.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

psu_whammy (940612) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613255)

Yes indeed, let's put every tax dollar toward protecting our borders. That way, we know we'll be safe until the roads deteriorate to nothing due to lack of funding.

geesh.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613463)

i would be very suprised if the FBI CIA NSA and a few other TLAs didn't have a few folks in second life

(imagine the surprise when you find out that the royal blue "fox" you have been chatting with/ bragging about your Skillz just happens to be
1 a couple or so years older than you thought
2 actually is female
3 carries a badge in RW

Re:its a freaking game!!! (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#18614567)

Basicly, because you can convert US$ to L$, gamble at a second life casino,potentially win L$ and convert back to US$, there are questions about whether it falls under US anti-internet-gambling laws. Linden Labs is just trying to cover all the bases and clearly demonstrate that they are willing to cooperate with the FBI on this.

Re:its a freaking game!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18626397)

I have been wondering something about the anti-gambling laws. If someone, say Joe, is starting a business and gathers capital from others(that is, he sells them the possibility of future profit), are the "speculators" not gambling? There isn't any real difference between speculation in investments as opposed to speculation on the roll of a dice, horse races, or an RNG.

Besides, what the hell gave government the power to regulate this? Last I checked, the constitution doesn't give congress the power to govern over games of chance.

Or umm ... (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | more than 7 years ago | (#18626511)

Preventing one otherwise unmonitored avenue of say, money laundering (just as an example).

In other words... (1)

Raistlin77 (754120) | more than 7 years ago | (#18611867)

...get your gambling in now before it (possibly) gets shut down.

Wow! (4, Funny)

LordPhantom (763327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18611889)

I wonder what their avatars look like.......

Agent Smith: Tell me, Mr. Anderson... what good is a phone call... if you're unable to speak?

are the FBI actually going into the game? (2, Interesting)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#18611953)

by "examine", do they mean the FBI are actually going to enter the game? i always found that weird, when admin-types have to do their duty from within the game.

one example: i read about a guy in an MMO who got his hands on a character that was accidentally released. he claimed the admins were trying to take it back... but they couldnt "find it". couldnt find it? they own the friggin servers. that should be as simple as a database query, or something like that.

Re:are the FBI actually going into the game? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612033)

No, not really. After being invoved with the "game" long enough, they can really see whats happening by watching the raw data scroll across the screen.

(oh, come on - you know somebody would give you a smart-ass answer like that)

Re:are the FBI actually going into the game? (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613853)

I was going to suggest taking the red pill. =)

Re:are the FBI actually going into the game? (1)

LordPhantom (763327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18616349)

Hmm.... I took the blue pill, but the results were more similar to the Enzyte guy than what happened to Neo....

Re:are the FBI actually going into the game? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612411)

Games may keep things like that in RAM, not in a database. It's not so easy to query a block of memory...

Re:are the FBI actually going into the game? (1)

daranz (914716) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612543)

A MMOG (btw, my pet peeve: it's MMOG not MMO) server is most likely not going to keep the data of all the online characters in RAM. The characters are persistent, with lots of data like inventories and stats carried over from session to session, so it'd be logical to store all that stuff in a db somewhere (with backups, due to the risk of facing hordes of rabid fans in case of a failure). Even if some character data is retained in RAM, somewhere there is going to be a database with login details, and characters corresponding to the particular set of credentials.

Re:are the FBI actually going into the game? (1)

jjgm (663044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612535)

Is *is* as simple as a database query, but generally the Game Masters in a MMO would not have the ability to issue arbitrary queries to the game servers / engines.

Nonetheless it is pretty normal for them to be able to instantly jump to the location of a named character. If it was a problem for an unusual character, that's most likely a bug or game artefact preventing them doing so. Or they didn't know its name.

That'd all require an escalation to a higher level, perhaps even to a DBA, which depending on the severity of the issue they might be disinclined to do.

Tired of Second Life Posts (4, Insightful)

Jalwin (1082419) | more than 7 years ago | (#18611963)

Anyone else sick of seeing so many stories about this game? It only has what, 20k subscribers? Yet it seems I see at least one news article a week about it.

Re:Tired of Second Life Posts (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612265)

I agree.

In the long run, SL will be remembered as a really lame also-ran MMORPG.

These arent stories, they're press releases.

Re:Tired of Second Life Posts (1)

Jalwin (1082419) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612571)

I agree, most if not all of Second Life's press comes from the stories like this generated by the media.

Re:Tired of Second Life Posts (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612595)

This isn't simply an article about Second Life, it's an article about the semantics of the words 'money' and 'gamble' that may have consequences for us all in the near future, regardless of the merits of the game itself.

Re:Tired of Second Life Posts (1)

AdamTrace (255409) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612625)

For what it's worth, the SecondLife webpage says it has over 5 million subscribers, with 1.6 million logging in in the last 60 days.

I don't know if that's an excuse for so many news stories, but your estimation of 20k subscribers was grossly inaccurate.

Re:Tired of Second Life Posts (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613259)

If you realize that 95% of those are bots, or "players" being _paid_ to occupy content providers areas (the 2nd live version of link-networks to boost ranking), it shrinks quite a bit.

Second live has a huge amount of astroturfing going on. Its also intersting to see how much main-stream media attention they get (and which companies those outlets belong to).

Re:Tired of Second Life Posts (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613623)

If you realize that 95% of those are bots, or "players" being _paid_ to occupy content providers areas (the 2nd live version of link-networks to boost ranking), it shrinks quite a bit.


Even if your 95% number is accurate, and ignoring that paid players are still live human participants, 5% of 5 million total subscribers is 250,000 and 5% of the 1.6 million recent users is 80,000, either of which still show the earlier 20k claim of total users to be way low.

Re:Tired of Second Life Posts (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613803)

that's okay. On slashdot we allow a wide margin of error to still be considered insightful.

Re:Tired of Second Life Posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18612633)

If you look at the real numbers..SL has gone around 4k to almost 40k users on constantly over the last year, thats a 10x increase. The number of residents is like comparing the number of hits to a webpage compared to how many people are actively using it. So 4million hits and around 40k active users using it at a time, when you take into account people actually sleep and log off at some point so 40k isn't a good estimate of the total number of active residents.

Still its growing, and soon it will be completely open source (the sim software will be made open source eventually, the viewer is already open source). I wonder what will happen then, some people think it might turn into something huge which is why the are already making their presence known in the virtual world of Second Life and yes some people are managing to make some money, but most of those people have been working in SL for quite a nice amount of time.

SL is laggy, buggy, and the graphics/physics are downright horrible. It's filled with sexual deviants and porn. It's overhyped and lots of people think it may be a good opportunity as a get rich quick scheme. (It is not.)

                                                Sounds like the internet a decade back to me.

Re:Tired of Second Life Posts (1)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 7 years ago | (#18614107)

Yes, I am also sick of SL. Makes me cry everytime I see some story about a corporation having virtual headquarters in it. Considering at a rough estimate 96% of the user created content is furry skins and genitalia (yes I found a wang with a /spoo command), I would suggest the entire gameworld is basically furrys (87%), IBM employees (8%) and other people with no life (5%).

Oh and people that love trolling. IBM showing people around their center.

http://www.mancer.org/ibm.jpg [mancer.org] (_definitely not safe for work_) Photo taken just as a whole bunch of people started arriving on some tour.

Re:Tired of Second Life Posts (1)

MadMidnightBomber (894759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618977)

Yes. It's particularly grating as I don't have a (first) life.

Re:Tired of Second Life Posts (1)

nevermore94 (789194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18621521)

No, I look for and forward to them. Only one a week? I wish there were daily stories. SL may currently have its problems, but I think it or something like it is the future. It is so much more than a "game". That is the mistake so many people make. It is more like a next gen web browser than anything (it is as revolutionary as Mosaic and will someday be the next Firefox). You can see other peoples creations, chat or remote conference with intereactive white boards, play a multitude of different user create games from Tetris to Star Wars RPGs, fly/drive hundreds of vehicles (many of which you can modify at will), and if you just want to shoot things, you can choose from hundreds of weapons or make your own (where else can you do that?) and go into the combat sims and have a blast.

Media Whores (5, Insightful)

timster (32400) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612063)

If you RTFA, it's more like "Second Life creators bragging about how they asked the FBI to look at their casinos". Another non-story about a third-rate MUSH.

Yes, they will be seized (3, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612085)

You know a report is going to breeze across some higher-up's desk, he'll see Bin Laden Dollars and demand to "get those fuckers now"

The only solution (0, Flamebait)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612093)

Is to stop criminalizing behavior that we don't like. Both liberals and conservatives are guilty of this in spades, and both are very self-righteous about this. The FBI cannot "do more important things" if its manpower is spread out of over every moralizing jackass's pet cause du jour.

You know why this will never end? Liberals and conservatives alike believe that their pet causes are so important, so common sense, so necessary that HOW FUCKING DARE YOU question them?! Read the US Constitution, it doesn't give the power to enforce half of the federal laws agencies enforce today. That doesn't matter because they're sophists. They'll bend the Constitution to mean whatever they want, even if it is all but a total ass raping of the language used in the Constitution.

Re:The only solution (0, Flamebait)

alfs boner (963844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612579)

Is to stop criminalizing behavior that we don't like. Conservatives are guilty of this in spades, and are very self-righteous about this. The FBI cannot "do more important things" if its manpower is spread out of over every moralizing jackass's pet cause du jour.

You know why this will never end? Conservatives believe that their pet causes are so important, so common sense, so necessary that HOW FUCKING DARE YOU question them?! Read the US Constitution, it doesn't give the power to enforce half of the federal laws agencies enforce today. That doesn't matter because they're sophists. They'll bend the Constitution to mean whatever they want, even if it is all but a total ass raping of the language used in the Constitution.

Fixed.

In the future, if you don't want to get downmodded again you need to correct your thinking a little bit.

Lord, please let the FBI smite Linden Labs... (0, Flamebait)

isaac (2852) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612095)

Hot damn, I'm giggling at the prospect of Linden Labs getting right fscked by the FBI over this. The FBI is not exactly world-renown for its sane priorities or sense of proportionality.

May the big, dumb fist of the federal bureacracy come smashing down on Linden Labs and their crappy chatroom-cum-hype-machine! I hope a hundred lives are shattered by overbearing moralists and revenuers if it saves me from having to read one more breathless article about the wonders of this wanna-be metaverse. (Although that Anshe Chung griefing video WAS funny...)

-Isaac

Re:Lord, please let the FBI smite Linden Labs... (1)

honkycat (249849) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612283)

No, the FBI and law enforcement in general don't have a great reputation for having a good sense of proportionality. Whether that's a fair reputation, I don't know. However, I have a feeling that if their casinos ARE illegal, their pro-active invitation to the FBI to investigate like this will work very much in their favor. It probably substantially increases the odds that they receive a stern warning to shut down the casinos and submit to another investigation to show that they have done so, rather than having the FBI show up at their server room door with (or without) a warrant and shutting the whole thing down to investigate. Basically, it demonstrates good faith and is a bow to the authority of the FBI to enforce gambling laws. If there's anything that law enforcement typically DOES have, it's an appreciation for being shown respect.

Re:Lord, please let the FBI smite Linden Labs... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18612333)

I think it would be even more hilarious if the FBI's in-game avatars were also assaulted by flying penises.

Re:Lord, please let the FBI smite Linden Labs... (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613281)

This reminds me of a stupid criminal trick

Operator: 911, please state the emergency
Crook: Um, yeah, I was just wondering if there might be any warrants out for my arrest
O: Can I have your name and social or identity theft, please?
C: J. Bird, xxx-xx-3C08
O: Please hold
        <dispatches police to location>
C: You still there?
O: Please hold
C: I hear sirens
O: Please hold
C: They're all parked around me!
O: Yes, there is a warrant out for your arrest. Please get on the ground.
C: <scuffling noises>

Why would they invite the FBI? If they're really concerned, they should hire a lawyer and then act on the lawyer's advice. Are they based in UK? Perhaps they're not aware of the fifth amendment over here?

Re:Lord, please let the FBI smite Linden Labs... (1)

JNighthawk (769575) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618999)

They'd invite the FBI because it's not they who are breaking the law (if anyone is). The casinos are user-generated content, so it would be the users' problem, not Linden Labs'.

finally (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612129)

I have a reason to actually play second life.

No, I won't be gambling per say....

In any event, I would like to announce my new "hang out" which has been themed after the movie "Casino Royale."

Why yes, yes we do have hookers and black jack.

too much law enforcement (3, Insightful)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612147)

With all the absolutely ridiculous actions the FBI is taking, including 'busting' kids for making threats over Xbox Live, I'm starting to think we've got too many federal law enforcement agents.

If you exchange $ for Linden, you might be a moron (3, Funny)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612215)

Cue voice of Jeff Foxworthy...

"If you exchange good old fashioned American dollars for Lindens, you might be a moron."

Re:If you exchange $ for Linden, you might be a mo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18612779)

might be a moron?

more like

ARE a moron

Place your bets (3, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18612667)

What will come of online gambling?

Place your bets place your bets place your bets

Today's horse race at Slashdot Downs:

1) No-op - the FBI won't press charges
2) Squib - the FBI will try to shut it down and fail
3) Buster - the FBI will try to shut it down and succeed
4) Angel - the FBI will try to shut it down and before they can act Congress will intervene and save the gamblers
5) Loudmouth - Congress will try to shut it down and fail
6) Devil - Congress will shut it down

Re:Place your bets (1)

Hocakes (1084335) | more than 7 years ago | (#18613289)

7) FBI will ask Linden to stop all games of chance, Linden will oblige, then collapse because without gambling, there aren't enough deviants out there to keep the place afloat.

Re:Place your bets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18613561)

7) CowboyNeal - ????

Re:Place your bets (insider info) (1)

koddso (1084485) | more than 7 years ago | (#18617933)

The smart money is on Squib. There is so much crap on the racetrack its basically like running through mud. Squib is a mudder! His mother was a mudder!!!

There.com looked into this before (1)

ITman75 (671124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619577)

I play http://there.com/ [there.com] and we wanted casino items in game to play with, however since you can purchase addition Tbucks (currency) they said it would be illegal and encourage underage gambling.

Good thing there's no such thing as the mob (1)

Atrox666 (957601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18621933)

Interesting how your government always steps in when mob profits are at stake. Human rights..not so much, constitutional attacks..not so much, environmental devastation..no not that either. But organized crime profits at risk sure do get them off their ass.
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