Automated Single-Player Zyngo – a Game of Skill or Gambling?

by Alphaville Herald on 25/09/09 at 7:54 am

Is Linden Lab making millions from online gam(bl)ing again???

Second Life High Roller Gam(bl)ing – part 3

by Father Jones, investigative reporter


In the previous two parts of this series we looked at the amazing number of high stakes gaming parlors in Second Life and the history of online gambling in Second Life. Although gambling was supposedly banned, games that appear surprisingly similar to gambling have become common again, and this series concludes with a look at the current state of gam(bl)ing in Second Life.

The creative bypass: games of skill !

Not long after Linden Lab wiped out almost all existing casinos, something strange happened to the joy of many: Linden Lab claimed that games of skill were not considered gambling, so those games could continue.

Soon after this revelation, a bingo style game called ‘Zyngo’ made by the Second Life resident Aargle Zymurgy was allowed again by Linden Lab – even though Zyngo was first banned as were other game of chance. Linden Lab ruled the Zyngo game was no longer a game of chance, but was considered a game of skill, despite the fact that the game is a simple bingo game with some extra bonuses. The numbers for every round in this game are randomly generated, as well as the playboard itself. 


With Zyngo, new kind of casinos popped up, but they did not call themselves casinos anymore and gave their places more innocent names like ‘Jungle Games’, ‘Snoopy’s Games’, etc.  The games that are put out in such gaming-places are far less innocent: they cover a range from low roller games up to very high roller games you can not even find in real life casinos.  This new so-called skilled based gaming became actually a form of hardcore gambling. 

Doing magic tricks with game settings

The creator of the bingo game Zyngo apparently pursued Linden Lab to allow his game with a simple ‘skill-based test’ – he had put out 10 Zyngo-games and set them up as they will produce exactly the same game session on each Zyngo. He then invited 5 experienced Zyngo-players and 5 players who never played the game before to play the exact same game sessions. He and Linden Lab saw that the experienced players produced higher scores as a proof that Zyngo was a game of skill. After that simple experiment, Zyngo was approved by Linden Lab and the show could go on.

This test only focused on the difference in scoring results, and it was a test only for a multiplayer contest where the one with the highest score could win an L$ prize. But the game of Zyngo machines can be set up in many different ways – including an automatic self-running single player mode.


autoplay – pay the machine and the game plays itself

The multiplayer contest mode of the game is actually almost nonexistent in Second Life. There are hundreds of places with ‘Instant payout’ Zyngo-machines that are setup for single player game sessions: if you beat the score set on the machine, you win a certain L$ prize. After some experimenting, owners of the Zyngo game discovered that there is a ‘chart of probability’ to be made about the outcome of ‘instant payout’ Zyngo games set to a certain score to beat. For example: Zyngo owners found there is about a 10% profit to be made when you set a Zyngo with a score to beat of 50000 points with a prize to win of 5 times the pay-in (for example a prize of 5000 Linden Dollars for a 1000 Linden Dollar payment into the game). This chart of probability looks like this: 

Score to beat    Winning chances L$ Pay-in   Multiplier   Prize in L$
35000 points    40% 1000    2X    2000
40000 points    30% 1000    3X    3000
50000 points    25% 1000    5X    5000
55000 points    20% 1000    7.5X    7500
60000 points    12% 1000    9X    9000
65000 points    10% 1000    10X    10000
70000 points    7.5% 1000    15X    15000
80000 points    5% 1000    X20    20000

This chart of probability suggests two things: 

The game of Zyngo is used in such ways that it can not be called a game of skill since winning a game session in ‘Instant payout’ mode depends more on probability and less on skill.

The multipliers used in combination with the high scores to beat are making this a clear gambling device. If one only has a statistical 10% chance to beat the score of 65000 points, can we still talk about an innocent game of skill ?

Linden Dollar farms

No wonder that Linden Lab looks the other way -  the new casinos are huge L$ farms for not only the owners – but also for Linden Lab.

Where a typical well run Second Life business selling virtual goods or services can make up to about L$ 50,000  ($188 USD) a day, a successful Zyngo parlor can generate up to L$ 5,000,000 ($18,800 USD) in one day.

These numbers sound unreal, but how else can the owners afford  to pay $240 USD per week for classified ads? 


Classifieds ads: casino’s pay up to L$138888 ($243 USD) weekly to attract high roller gamblers

Beyond weekly ad costs, the casinos are a cash cow for Linden Lab inland fees – they use full private sims (servers) and pay Linden Lababout $250 USD a month for rental of these sims.

With monthly fees paid to Linden Lab by top casinos running around $1000 – $1,200 USD for ads and land tier, the Lab's yearly take works out to $12,000 -  $14,400 USD per casino. At this rate, it only takes 70 – 80 high-end casinos to add $1M USD to the Linden's balance sheet overthe course of a year.

Does simple math explain how automated single-player Zyngo became a game of skill – at least in the eyes of Linden Lab?

89 Responses to “Automated Single-Player Zyngo – a Game of Skill or Gambling?”

  1. Kristal

    Sep 23rd, 2010

    Zyngo rocks… I 80% of the times win… I pay my RL water and electric bills with what I win on the zyngo machines.

  2. Anon

    Sep 23rd, 2010

    well then share us some tips

  3. Nelson Jenkins

    Sep 24th, 2010

    Holy shitting christ, $18,800 a day? Damn, I’m in the wrong business.

  4. Jayd3n

    Sep 24th, 2010

    There are a few games in Second Life called A GAME OF SKILL.

    Zyngo, and a few others I have played, and let me just say, I consider any game that requires a payment of any type gambling. Although their creative circumvent is a game of skill by giving people a chance of two bumps.\

    Gambling Machines use Closed Source LSL code which unless hacked can’t cant be seen by anyone else but the creator. These codes can be altered and hacked so that owners could take control of who wins who looses and such, for example a bet of 1-5k = possible win anything above = over 80% Loss ect. control by web database, however they would have wins sometimes to make people feel lucky and keep playing of course but they would be generating a big profit for themselves, this may, or may not be true though.

    Although honestly I don’t really care about gambling people want to do it its their choice its not really causing harm, however I would like it to be fair gambling, not cheated systems.

  5. Anon

    Oct 2nd, 2010

    Any game play strategies?

  6. Anon

    Oct 2nd, 2010

    Want to increase my average score

  7. Nelson Jenkins

    Oct 2nd, 2010

    @ Anon

    I hope you’re not being serious.

  8. Anon

    Oct 3rd, 2010

    I wanna improve my zyngo scores

  9. Nelson Jenkins

    Oct 3rd, 2010

    @ Anon

    Shut up and troll elsewhere.

  10. Anon

    Oct 3rd, 2010

    You’re mean :(

  11. Kiddoh

    Oct 3rd, 2010

    I would also like to improve my zyngo scores as well. Is there perhaps a video walkthrough?

  12. Glenn Beck

    Oct 3rd, 2010

    You know who else used autoplay because he sucked playing himself?


  13. Anon

    Oct 6th, 2010

    Are you saying we shouldnt use autoplay?

  14. Anon

    Oct 16th, 2010

    not like there’s any good ways to make L anymore without buying it which is stupid

  15. Nelson Jenkins

    Oct 16th, 2010

    @ Anon

    Or you could, y’know, become a productive member of society and actually do something instead of gambling and demanding handouts.

  16. Anon

    Oct 17th, 2010

    never said I wanted a handout

  17. Nelson Jenkins

    Oct 17th, 2010

    I need to unsubscribe from this trollfest…

  18. Anon

    Oct 17th, 2010

    just think paying for fake money is stupid

  19. Nelson Jenkins

    Oct 17th, 2010

    @ Anon

    So is gambling.

  20. Anon

    Oct 17th, 2010

    not when it’s fake money that has no real value

  21. Nelson Jenkins

    Oct 17th, 2010

    @ Anon

    US$ is fake money that has no real value, either, right?

  22. Anon

    Oct 17th, 2010

    the initial conversion rate was all just made of crap and it went on from there

  23. Anon

    Oct 17th, 2010

    and if/when sl ever completely dies you really think any of your stuff will be compensated for?

  24. Anon

    Oct 17th, 2010

    not against there being an economy i just think paying real money into it and then trying to get real money back out is stupid

  25. Anon

    Oct 17th, 2010

    especially when the company seems to be dying

  26. Zyngoz

    Oct 20th, 2010

    does anyone know why alot of places now basically force you to have group tags on to play on their freeplays, i tbh hate them because it makes me feel like a giant advertising banner my name is zyngoplace joe smith my name is joe smith.

  27. Zyngoz

    Oct 20th, 2010

    i mean my name isnt my tag + my name it’s my name plus i get spammed to too much on groups now so i try not to join any

  28. Nelson Jenkins

    Oct 20th, 2010

    @ Zyngoz

    They’re just making further idiots out of the tools that play Zyngo.

  29. Zyngoz

    Oct 20th, 2010

    Well there are other games to play besides zyngo which i like that are more fun like Jtris

  30. Alpha

    Oct 21st, 2010

    There is a thread interesting:

    up it on sl forum to show the sl what are skil games now…

  31. Zyngoz

    Nov 15th, 2010

    How lame LL has gotten rid of autoplay

  32. Nelson Jenkins

    Nov 15th, 2010

    @ Zyngoz

    You can stop commenting here now.

  33. Zyngoz

    Nov 16th, 2010

    linden lab is very mean company

  34. had enough

    Nov 16th, 2010

    @ nelson “You can stop commenting here now.”

    Damn who died and left the fur fag in charge?

  35. Nelson Jenkins

    Nov 16th, 2010

    @ had enough

    I was hoping you did. Oh well, guess I’ll have to put up with another troll here.

  36. Blue4u Nowicka

    Dec 1st, 2010

    The DEATH of AUTOplay!! Finally I am FREE! No auto play is sooooooooooo booooring!

  37. Anon

    Dec 1st, 2010

    I like the new rules where the devil no longer takes from the top score just from your possible for that round

  38. Frank Sopor

    Feb 3rd, 2011

    Father Jones, aka Cash Mildor, aka Aryou Lykin. This writer of this article was a former casino owner in SL and went bust. Out of frustration, he perpetrated the biggest zyngo cloning scam ever. This is what prompted Aargle to create slysense. Now Father Jones is sending notecards in world to game owners with mis information that zyngo is now banned. Just google “father Jones zyngo” and you will see that he copy/pastes the same propaganda over and over again. Lolz

  39. Flavius

    Aug 25th, 2011

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