Uncover the Truth About Gambling in Second Life | What You Need to Know!

Last Updated on: 19th July 2024, 05:19 pm

Just over a year ago, Linden Lab unveiled the Helios Casino & Lounge in Second Life. At the time, I remember seeing a significant backlash on Twitter, partly because LL has always maintained a strong stance against gambling in Second Life. Additionally, people were upset because, although you can invest real money to buy tokens, any winnings can’t be cashed out. Essentially, many saw it as a money sink designed to profit Linden Lab. Initially, I didn’t pay much attention, but now I find myself intrigued by the concept of gambling in Second Life. Why, you ask? Let me explain.

Uncover the Truth About Gambling in Second Life

The Story of Amelia and Gambling in Second Life

Occasionally, I receive a text from an old RL friend who logs into Second Life for her annual visit to see what’s changed. These visits usually last no more than two hours before she logs out and disappears for another 10 months.

For this post, we’ll call her Amelia.

Amelia’s real-life struggle with gambling began with mobile games in the late 2000s. Microtransactions, online blackjack, and slots—anything that promised a quick thrill and potential cash.

Her habit led to significant debt, strained relationships, and a challenging life. Many envision gambling addicts as old men in betting shops, but modern technology makes it easy for anyone to get hooked.

On the surface, Second Life appears to be a safe space where gambling is banned. However, skill-based games on dedicated gaming regions blur the line.

Last week, during my break from Second Life, Amelia texted me during her annual visit. Two hours later, she admitted to spending around £50 at a Second Life casino.

She rationalized it as just paying for fun, but it got me thinking about how easy it is to fall into gambling traps in Second Life. Consequently, I decided it was time to visit the Helios Casino & Lounge.

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The Hidden Dangers of Helios Casino & Lounge

Helios Casino & Lounge seems to know exactly what it’s doing. It targets those with gambling addictions, a fact highlighted by the giant wall of signs on the right side when you enter. These signs provide information on contacting the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network.

It’s good that they offer this information, but it begs the question: why does Helios even exist?

Upon landing in the sim, a HUD automatically attached to my screen, taking up half of it. I didn’t opt into an experience, nor did I accept the HUD. It just appeared.

Perhaps I had previously opted into an experience that allowed it, which isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault. However, when the HUD attached, one thought ran through my mind.

Despite knowing my purpose for being there, I couldn’t help but think, “Oh, 500 free credits, I wonder what I can win.” I didn’t gamble, but the temptation was immediate. Psychologically, everything about it is designed to appeal. The sleek colors, flashing lights, free credits—all suggesting it’s free and that you can win.

Even when I sat at a table to take a picture, the game instantly tried to start.

Everything is designed to draw you in until you run out of credits. Then, you’re tempted to spend money—money you can’t get back once it’s converted to credits. This setup preys on our psychological impulses, making it easy to justify spending more.

The Need for High Scores

I don’t have a gambling addiction, but I understand how easy it is to become obsessed. Everyone who knows me personally is aware of my relentless drive to excel. No matter the activity, I must be the best.

This trait has strained relationships, cost friendships, and led my career down unexpected paths.

Two years ago, this drive took a different turn. On this very blog, you might recall a series called “Affair with a Dork.” Back in those days, my writing was more naive, and I grasped at anything for content.

During that time, I had an affair with a man named Mr. C. He frequently took me to the casino.

We gambled Lindens, and he often scored high on the machines. He taught me the ins and outs of playing them. I wasn’t fixated on winning money, but I desperately wanted my name to appear above those machines.

Whenever he scored high, he moved to the next machine, and I would pour hundreds, sometimes thousands, of Lindens into the one he left, aiming for the high score. I won some, lost more, but I believed that having my name displayed would draw attention to my profile and bring me clients.

After all, who makes a better client than someone who just won 50k at a casino?

For the sake of this post, I revisited that old casino where Mr. C and I spent so much time. Interestingly, nothing had really changed. This was also the place where Amelia spent all her money.

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The Sheer Scale of Gambling in Second Life

While I was there, I did a quick count and found 1,051 gaming machines. In a single region, that’s 1,051 opportunities for gambling in Second Life.

These machines have various multipliers arranged in neat rows. A 7x multiplier means you get seven times what you put in if you win. So, a 10L bet returns 70L. It seems small, but once you win that 70L, you start thinking, “Hmm, I could try the 10x.”

This cycle continues until you find yourself at 150x or playing machines that cost 12,500L per play. The highest bet I saw was 25,000L per play.

Consequently, this becomes a major issue. Second Life is a virtual escape, a world with its own economy fuelled by user spending on products, land, vehicles, and yes even prostitutes. However, gambling is a serious real-life problem that can cause significant harm.

Lack of Regulations

In Second Life, there are no stringent regulations. Despite the Skilled Gaming policy, LL isn’t going to closely monitor your uploads and expenditures at a casino.

In real life, at least in the UK, betting apps offer systems to help limit gambling. You can set deposit limits, get banned from certain sites, and more. Unfortunately, in Second Life, nothing like this exists, and that’s a real concern.

Additionally, the cash-out process from Second Life through Tilia is dreadful. Tilia takes a 5% cut of whatever you cash out, and Linden Lab takes a cut when you sell through LindeX, the trading market. Conversion rates and PayPal fees also add up.

Despite these obstacles, it’s both interesting and concerning to consider how many people might be feeding their gambling addiction through Second Life. Unlike Helios, winnings at other casinos can be converted to real money and cashed out.

Reflecting on Helios’ launch last year, I wish I had paid more attention. With everything considered, it’s one of Second Life’s biggest jokes and one of Linden Lab’s biggest mistakes.

What about you? What were your thoughts on the launch of Helios? And in the year since it opened, have you visited?

Getting Help for Gambling Addiction

I’m not a therapist or a counselor, but I can offer some useful links if you feel you have a gambling problem. It’s crucial to seek help.

I can’t provide resources for every country, so I focused on the top five countries that visit this site the most. Here are some approved gambling addiction help services for the UK, the USA, Australia, Germany, and Russia:

United Kingdom

United States

Australia

Germany

Russia

  • National Hotline for Gambling Addiction: 8-800-350-30-65 (игроваязависимость.рф)
  • Gamblers Anonymous Russia: (www.gamblersanonymous.ru)

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1 Comment

  1. Fox Harker

    In the early days of SL, the encouraged gambling, and a surprising amount of the traffic was driven by people who would log in and sit in bleachers in what were known as “SLingo” and “Tringo” parlors, playing those two games. A good job to make some money at the time was as a game host. It was insanely popular. I’d guess that at least half of their traffic at the time was for SLingo and Tringo. SLingo was simply a version of Bingo, with some variants, played inworld, as a group. Tringo was a bit more creative, combining elements of the group play and Tetris. It actually was sold as a game outside of SL but it didn’t take off. You can read about it here. https://www.gamezebo.com/reviews/tringo-review/
    I’ve never been much for gambling, (When I gamble, I lose.) but I always thought that it was a particularly bad choice in SL. Back in the day, when you could go to a casino and play any game you liked, there was absolutely no way to examine the scripts that the gaming machines were running, and thus, no way at all to tell that the machines paid off at the rates they claimed…or to tell if the other avatars around who were “winning” money, were actually real residents or bots.
    I haven’t been gambling in SL since the “skill based” games have come in so I have no idea what assurances are offered now.
    Anyway, I thought I’d offer the perspective of an SL oldster here. 🙂 – Foxy (19 years in SL as of this month.)

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