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How to Lose Your Shirt in Second Life

Posted by: Rob Hof on January 11, 2007

Magnus Rothlisberger, a resident of Second Life, describes in the Second Life Herald how he lost the equivalent of $1,153 on blackjack tables in the virtual world. It’s hilarious partly because it’s so well-told, but also because it’s so awful. Losing more than $1,000 in a virtual world? Yikes. Of course, Vegas itself is pretty unreal, so maybe the distinction is moot.

I also wonder if the IRS knows about all this? I’ll have to check out the casinos in Second Life tonight. Except I’m keeping my PayPal account well clear of my SL account.

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Reader Comments


January 11, 2007 08:29 PM

this is much bigger than an irs problem. second life hosts virtual casinos where you play with chips (linden bucks) that are easily exchanged for US dollars. How is this different than a Vegas casino? And why would Second Life be immune to the Feds' crackdown on other online gaming sites like betonsports and partygaming? and why have no journalists picked up on this issue? why instead do they just fawn over the SL press releases? this will end up being a much more interesting story about SL.


January 12, 2007 09:39 AM

$1000L is about the equivalent of maybe 5 real dollars. If the Feds went after every person who gambled for only five bucks... hell, I don't think it's even possible. Maybe there are some high-stakes casinos in SL, but I haven't been to them.


January 15, 2007 02:47 PM

If the Federal authorities choose to prosecute Second Life for operating illegal gambling, it will be easy given the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006. For details, check out

Harry Bombast

January 28, 2007 10:27 AM

He didn't lose L$1000. He lost more than $1000 USD. There certainly are casinos in SL where you can bet L$5,000 or L$10,000 or more at a time (he was at Raiden, probably the best known). That adds up to real $US real fast. In fact, the author of the article bet L$64,000 on a single turn of the wheel. He was using a "system" that generations of chumps have used to enrich the casinos of the world.

It's real gambling. There is no doubt about it.


February 28, 2007 07:43 PM

This is why I am not opening up a casino on SL. SL and LL may be protected under safe harbor while the users of SL will likely be liable for doing anything illegal in the eyes of the government.

Think of Second Life as internet 2.0, it is the user who ultimately is responsible for their actions. Also, Second Life has no other choice but to follow their end of the law or they get shut down quick.


March 5, 2007 02:47 PM

No offense but the article from that link barely skims the surface of a rather sophisticated legal issue and if the federal government tried to prosecute Linden Labs under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (the "UIGEA") they would have a very difficult time with it. Linden Labs consulted their lawyers when the UIGEA was passed and published a more substantive analysis of its applicability to gambling in Second Life at in October 2006.

I doubt morality concerns alone will be enough to cause any revision to the UIGEA so it would clearly cover the gambling venues provided in SL. Keep in mind that a significant if not the primary factor in the passage of the UIGEA was the concern over the use of dedicated internet gambling servers as money laundering tools for organized crime and terrorism. Unlike the dedicated internet gambling sites the gambling venues in SL are simply not streamlined to make money laundering viable.


October 5, 2007 12:50 AM

were is the black jack in sl?


February 14, 2008 02:28 PM

If you lose your shirt, I've found a site that has plenty of free second life shirt designs:

Free Second Life Shirts

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