FBI examine casinos in Second Life

At the invitation of Linden Lab, creators of Second Life, FBI investigators have checked out casinos that can be found in the virtual world but are undecided on the legality of virtual gambling.

"We have invited the FBI several times to take a look around in Second Life and raise any concerns they would like, and we know of at least one instance that federal agents did look around in a virtual casino," said Ginsu Yoon, Linden Lab vice-president for business affairs.

Second Life is an increasingly popular online virtual world, similar in ways to the massively popular Half Life though intrinsically it is based upon different ideals. Second Life has its own economy where residents can be buy pieces of land (for real money) and develop it as they wish. So realistic is Second Life, that it even had a terrorist attack last year

As the world has become more popular, so has the number of virtual casinos. It is estimated that some of the largest casinos can earn up to $1,500 a month. That figure is a paltry sum compared to their more traditional online counterparts but nonetheless, the US government will doubtless investigate further following last years crackdown on internet gambling.

Because of the very nature of Second Life, the legality of gambling in a virtual world will be hard to gauge and, perhaps even more so, ascertain the extent of Linden Lab’s responsibility in the matter.

However, following the US’s tough stance on internet gambling, which has seen the arrest of online gambling executives such as David Carruthers, Peter Dicks and the NETeller founders, perhaps Linden Labs should be worried.

"If you're buying money on the Lindex (a virtual currency exchange) and utilizing it for gambling purposes, Linden could have a much higher level of responsibility," said Sean Kane of New York’s Drakeford & Kane, a lawyer familiar with the legality of virtual worlds.

"If they would be found in violation, that's difficult to say, but I can see a much stronger case being made,” he added.

However, Linden Labs have declared that it would not be possible for them to monitor or stop gambling in Second Life.

Editor, Jackpot.co.uk - 2007-04-04 11:49:53

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