In what may be another confusing entanglement of politics and gaming, UK MMO operators may soon find themselves having to apply for licenses to avoid prosecution as a result of new online gambling laws which will take effect in September.
The new law will treat all MMOs which run competitions or which offer prizes as being essentially the same as online poker and will force them to be subject to the same penalties and supervision as other forms of online gambling.
The news comes soon after it was reported that the USA is looking at how to tax virtual worlds
such as Second Life
. However, in the USA MMOs are treated as 'games of skill' and are therefore exempt from gambling regulations.
In the UK, things are a little different and one law firm outlines how it would work to GamesIndustry.biz
"MMO operators can avoid any potential penalties by obtaining an operators' licence from the Gambling Commission.
"This is not a simple task, but it is also not overtly complex. The key is to satisfy the Commission that you have in place an operation that satisfies the requirements and key objectives of the new law."
These include commitments to ensuring fair and open gambling, the protection of children and other vulnerable persons and the prevention of links between gambling and crime."
At the very least, it'll be odd to know that games like World of Warcraft
or Lord of The Rings Online
will be legally similar to a game of Baccarat.
Should MMO operators have to display these licenses, or is the whole thing just indicative of the UK governments lack of understanding of modern games? You're the community, you decide