“It”s Not Illegal Yet!” — Opening the Sports Book in SL

by Alphaville Herald on 17/02/05 at 8:59 am

by Walker Spaight

As the rash of Tringo parlors makes clear, gambling is a not unpopular activity in Second Life. Now, just in time for March Madness, a full sports book is coming to SL that will allow residents to indulge their taste for wagering on RL sports like NCAA basketball, Major League Baseball, and whatever else happens to be in season.

The brainchild of TSO refugee Kingey Oz, The Grid Sportsbook will launch as soon as this weekend, offering the chance to bet on NBA and NCAA basketball at first, and expanding to other major sports as they come into season. The Herald spoke to Kingey outside the Second Life Network Building in Atlas as Kingey was considering final touches to put on The Grid Sportsbook vendors (pictured here without data).

The project, which is financed by backers who will remain nameless, will launch with a single vendor at James Miller’s lotto terminal in Noyo, but should soon expand to locations all over the grid, according to Kingey.

The project is scripted by Marc Eisenberg, who has created a Web interface that will store games, spreads and results. Fearless Leader is responsible for the prim design of the vendor itself.

Kingey comes to SL’s betting scene with similar experience from TSO, where he helped run the MotorCity Sports Book in 2003. “Casinos are big here, and it worked in TSO,” Kingey said. “With enough persistence, I don’t see why it shouldn’t work here.”

Previous grid experience with sports betting has not been a smashing success. Usher Caldera, who ran a scripted NFL book last season, told the Herald, “There are lots of gamblers in SL but very few sports fans.” (Forum postings show that Satchmo Prototype also briefly ran an NFL book last year.)

Usher, who was kind enough to share his stats with the Herald, said he barely broke even on the venture, and “absolutely didn’t make back my investment of time.” Usher said his system took in about L$200,000 in wagers over the NFL season, 85 percent of which was paid out to winning bettors. Another 12 percent was paid out to “partners” who hosted his vendors on their land.

However, Usher was not discouraging when it came to future projects: “If it’s promoted correctly, it could work, definitely,” he said.

The Grid Sportsbook will operate through an XyText display that will allow bettors to scroll through available sports and games and place their bets. As a security measure, bettors receive a receipt which they will have to bring back to the vendor in order to collect their winning bets. Asked about the inventory-eating bugs that have cropped up lately in SL, Kingey said bettors would be free to IM him with any problems, as a full record of bets would also be stored by the vendor.

In the first implementation, bettors will be able to wager only on the point spread on games, but a future version should allow money line and over/under bets as well. Spreads and money lines will be determined from a composite of various Internet sources.

Payout on winning bets will be L$10 for each L$11 wagered. (I.e., total payout on a winning L$11 bet would be L$21.)

Asked about the legality of the operation, Kingey said he had informally polled a Linden about it, and gotten the following response: “It’s not illegal yet!”

6 Responses to ““It”s Not Illegal Yet!” — Opening the Sports Book in SL”

  1. Marsellus Wallace

    Feb 17th, 2005

    Motorcity? Hmmmm Kingey.. Message me in-game. I know you from another game and want to discuss some business.

    -Marsellus Wallace

  2. Artemis

    Feb 17th, 2005

    I would think the rash of Casinos would be more displaying that gambling is popular in SL.

  3. The Father

    Feb 17th, 2005

    I don’t see why this would be considered to be illegal? It is just play money – even though it was real world value.

  4. Kingey Oz

    Feb 17th, 2005

    Wow, nice article Walker. Thanks!

    I had not spoken to User Caldera before…that information is new to me, but I don’t see it as anything we can’t overcome. Sports fan or not, I see wagering on RL sports in SL just as a way to have fun. Heck, I’m not even that big of a sports fan myself. Since we’re not talking about large amounts of money here, betting in SL can be used to just give a game you’re watching a little more excitement.

    At the moment, I don’t have a time and date set for the launch yet, but I hope to have everything in place as soon as possible. Hopefully, all systems will be go by at least this time next week, but barring any complications it should be even earlier. When I have it, I’ll post the date and time of the opening event here.

    Again, thanks for the article Walker! I hope to see everyone who’s interested at our opening event.


  5. Artemis

    Feb 18th, 2005

    “I don’t see why this would be considered to be illegal? It is just play money – even though it was real world value. ”

    It’s not play money if you can turn a bundle of it in for 200 USD or more.

  6. Kingey Oz

    Feb 19th, 2005

    Everything has value. Monopoly money, United States dollars, bananas, Linden dollars – the point is, if the Lindens say it’s fine, then it’s fine. If their lawyers were concerned in any way about gambling in SL, you can be sure that would be the end of gambling in the open in SL as we know it.

    In the end, the only one who really is responsible for this is me, and I’m not worried.

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