A new article published by the BBC should be of interest to all Decentraland investors. Yesterday, Grand Theft Auto 5 (GTA 5) launched its ‘pay-to-play’ Diamond Casino in the online version of the game, which is played by thousands of people simultaneously around the world.
Similar Legal Challenges
It is no secret that setting up a virtual casino for a global audience comes with many complex challenges. Gambling rules around the world vary drastically, and this is an obvious hurdle which Decentraland’s Vegas City district will have to address and overcome itself, if it hasn’t done so already.
However, when it comes to gambling, rules and regulations aren’t always so clear cut. There are still many grey areas, and when there is so much on the line, it’s not always best to be the first to cliff jump and hope the water is deep enough for a safe landing.
Step forward GTA 5 with their shiny new Diamond Casino.
THE DIAMOND CASINO & RESORT IS NOW OPEN— Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) 23 July 2019
Today marks the grand opening of The Diamond Casino & Resort, a sprawling entertainment and luxury living complex conveniently located in Vinewood and open to all citizens of Southern San Andreas.https://t.co/dpmbuHZGme pic.twitter.com/rDCVe2daX7
It has taken Rockstar Games 6 years to launch the ‘pay-real-money-to-play’ casino within the game which is available on most major gaming consoles. You can bet this launch has been researched every inch of the way to ensure it adheres to all legal regulations.
How does it work?
In order to accommodate gambling rules and regulations, below is a quick summary of how Rockstar Games have had to structure the inner workings of their casino on GTA 5. These pointers might also be handy for anybody planning to launch a gambling project on their LAND in Decentraland:
Players can buy casino chips for fiat currency, but can NOT cash out winnings back into fiat.
Players can use these casino chips to gamble, win more chips, which can then be spent on in-game items such as better cars, weapons, luxury suites etc.
Any player around the globe can walk around the casino, but tables may be blocked by geo-location, depending on the country you reside in and local gambling laws.
Judging by the above conditions, it seems that so long as a player can’t win back more hard fiat currency than was initially placed, then there is some internal confusion among regulators as to whether this constitutes as gambling or not. GTA 5 certainly doesn’t think so.
It also remains to be seen how stirring crypto into the pot (using MANA token to gamble with) could further enhance confusion between regulators and their archaic, fearful and strangling approach to embracing anything even remotely innovative.
Another foregone conclusion to allowing players to deposit their own hard earned cash/crypto, but not permitting the withdrawal of any winnings in any way, is the inevitable emergence of black markets, mainly to sell in-game items peer-to-peer. It will be interesting to see how this evolves for GTA 5, and if anything adds another argument as to why NFT’s have a place in the gaming world, but then if they hold real world value, and can be sold for hard fiat cash on a secondary marketplace, would winning NFT’s then class as gambling? This is an endless conversation, moving swiftly on…
Why is all this relevant?
A successful Vegas City is imperative to the progress of Decentraland. A state of the art gambling district, which adheres to each players’ local laws and regulators, as well as encourages the purchase and use of MANA token, is exactly the accelerant needed to ignite a new, MANA rich economy where undoubtedly profits would spill out into other businesses in the surrounding area and beyond.
Decentraland’s Vegas district also has the financial backing of Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group, which in theory should go a long way to funding an exceptional user experience whilst helping absorb hefty legal fees to make sure the business stays on-side.
With all the chips in place, the only thing that remains is to see whether the district leaders have the knowledge and ability to pull this off and make it become a reality. As this district has been shrouded in secrecy since day one, and with very few people, including district contributors/investors being ‘in the loop’, it is impossible to give any odds on the likelihood of success for Vegas City.
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* Disclaimer: Before offering gambling as a service in Decentraland you should always do your own research. We are not legal professionals. All points mentioned throughout this article are based on observations and the BBC’s original article covering the Diamond casino