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polyfrag

Do I need a gambling license?

20 posts in this topic

This is a continuation of [url="http://www.gamedev.net/topic/608233-paypal-automated-paymentwithdrawl-with-php/"]http://www.gamedev.n...drawl-with-php/[/url].

[color="#1C2837"][size="2"]I have an economic game where people can purchase in-game credit and possibly make a profit.

I would like players to be able to withdraw money.[/size][/color]

[color="#1C2837"][size="2"]Somebody said I'd need a gambling license.[/size][/color]

[color="#1C2837"][size="2"]Does it still qualify as gambling if it's all deterministic? I dont even use the rand() function because the client needs to stay synchronized with the server. I just send user commands from the client and world events from the server.

It's weird, I could just make this a paid game where users have to buy credits, but if I give people the ability to withdraw money it qualifies as gambling.

Does it still qualify as gambling if users can't make a profit bigger than what is circulating in the game economy? [/size][/color]
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Plus, my game requires skill rather than chance.

[quote][color=#1C2837][size=2]Can someone get real money out of the game?[/size][/color][color=#1C2837][size=2]If so, you MUST hire an attorney before you go public with the game. [/quote][/size][/color]
[color=#1C2837][size=2]
[/size][/color]
[color=#1C2837][size=2]Yes, but it's just change. Like, I was thinking the minimum to play would be $1.00. To build something might cost $0.10 and you'd earn profit at $0.02 a day or something.[/size][/color]
[color=#1C2837][size=2]
[/size][/color]
[color=#1C2837][size=2]I hope an attorney doesn't cost like $100+.[/size][/color]
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[quote name='polyfrag' timestamp='1313043257' post='4847513']Plus, my game requires skill rather than chance.[/quote]Lots of gambling activities involve skill. It just changes the sub-category :/

[quote][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]I hope an attorney doesn't cost like $100+[/size][/color][/quote]That'll cover his lunch bill [img]http://public.gamedev.net/public/style_emoticons/default/laugh.gif[/img]
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[quote name='polyfrag' timestamp='1313043257' post='4847513']
[color=#1C2837][size=2]I hope an attorney doesn't cost like $100+.[/size][/color]
[/quote]
Then you can't afford to make this game as you plan.
It costs money to go into business, dude.
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[quote name='polyfrag' timestamp='1313077998' post='4847727']
I'll ask my friend who's in Commercial Law and Corporate Relations.
[/quote]
Good. Ask him if he's the right kind of lawyer to advise you on this.
And see the list of game lawyers in the directory on http://Obscure.co.uk
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Don't let them pull money out of the game. Simple, and straight forward. Solves your problem, and instead, they can get like raffles or something for free prizes every x days.
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But that's the whole point of the game. It's about economics!

Plus I have $11.00 in change that I was going to use as a promotional give-away (8 free game accounts are left, valued at $1.00 each to the first 8 registrants).

Whenever a user opens the game client it was going to poll the server for the amount of money in the game economy and say something like, "Total money circulating in the game economy: $12.67".
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[quote name='RedPin' timestamp='1313083130' post='4847775']
Don't let them pull money out of the game. Simple, and straight forward. Solves your problem, and instead, they can get like raffles or something for free prizes every x days.
[/quote]
[quote name='polyfrag' timestamp='1313084730' post='4847789']
Plus I have $11.00 in change that I was going to use as a promotional give-away (8 free game accounts are left, valued at $1.00 each to the first 8 registrants).

Whenever a user opens the game client it was going to poll the server for the amount of money in the game economy and say something like, "Total money circulating in the game economy: $12.67".
[/quote]

Both activities are regulated. You need a lawyer. If you cannot afford one, then you obviously aren't ready for the business world.

Making software available online is a business venture. Yes it is something simple to do, but that doesn't make it any less of a business venture.

If you do it wrong, you can end up in court. And instead of investing a few hundred dollars in a lawyer up front, you will be paying out several thousands of dollars in a legal defense, in the hope to avoid potentially tens of thousands of in damages, fines, fees, or other court orders.

Having a business lawyer is important, especially when things of value are being transacted.
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Okay, I'll describe the gameplay and you tell me if it's gambling, just because I'm sleep-deprived and bored. (Going to SIGGRAPH in a few minutes.)

The player starts with $1.00 (100 cents) and 100 of almost each resource (Ore, Metal, Zetrol, etc.)

The player says where he wants to make buildings and then sets how much he wants to pay the builders. For example, a building might cost X Metal, Y Concrete and Z Labour. The workers provide the Labour. So you can say you will pay $0.01/Labour (the cheapest).

The amount you pay determines how fast and how many workers you attract. Workers choose the most profitable use of their time. (For example, given a choice between Job A, which is 5 tiles away and and pays $0.01/Labour and Job B, which is 23 tiles away and pays $0.11/Labour, they will choose the one that gives them the most money over the least span of time. But I don't compute the exact route they take to get to the job and instead compute the distance straight to the job place.)

The economy is a web of resources and buildings and the outputs of one building become the inputs of another. Players choose the suppliers for each of their buildings. The suppliers can be a building of their own, or a building of another player. Transporting the resources also costs money, because they must hire a transporter, or use Trucks of their own if they have them. The trucks consume Zetrol, which is sold for retail at Fuel Stations (which are distributed at convenient locations), which take Zetrol wholesale from Refineries (which are sparse because they are very expensive to build).

The workers use the money they earn on Consumer Goods (a resource), which is produced at Shopping Complexes. They need to consume a certain amount of Consumer Goods per timespan to survive, or else they die of starvation. If they have a surplus of Consumer Goods, they split and divide like microbes.

They also can only provide a certain amount of Labour before they have to rest. They rest at Apartments, which provide Housing (resource). The Apartments charge rent.

The workers who die of starvation (because they don't have enough money or because they couldn't get to a Shopping Complex/Apartment in time or because the prices were too high), have their funds go into an "uncollected fund", which is how I make money from the game.

EDIT: And you choose at what price to sell what each building produces.

EDIT: The owners of trucks choose what rate to charge per tile travelled and a per-delivery cost in addition.

EDIT: Maybe this should go in the Design forum.

EDIT: And the workers are regenerated if all of them have died off. And zetrol, pumped from zetrol patches, is a limited resource. It only grows with the expansion of the game world as more players join the game. That way, the older parts of the game world will grow more developed in other parts of the industry with expensive upgrades to buildings while newer parts of the gameworld will show primary industries like farming, mining and drilling.
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[quote name='polyfrag' timestamp='1313088522' post='4847828']
The player starts with $1.00 (100 cents) and 100 of almost each resource (Ore, Metal, Zetrol, etc.)
...
their funds go into an "uncollected fund", which is how I make money from the game.
[/quote]


That's the only important point: real money (or other items of real value) is involved.

Therefore this is a commercial venture.

It does not matter how tiny that value is, even if it were a microtransaction of a fraction of a cent, it is still a financial transaction. It is still subject to tax law. It is still subject to regulation. It is still subject to the entire commercial code.


You need a business lawyer.
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I dont know what people could possibly sue me for. Maybe if somebody didn't trust how the game economy worked.

Oh well. I will get a Legal notice and a Privacy policy for my website while I'm at it.

How much does a gambling license cost? Would I have to get one for each country? I saw somebody on this website offering a service just for that purpose.

I think I found a legal consultation service in my city that is $25 for the first 30 minutes.

EDIT: I guess I'll have to charge people tax too, so $1.00 will only be $0.88 or whatever.
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I only need a gambling license if I'm holding ticket raffles, poker, independent bingos, wheel of fortune, etc.

[url="http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/gaming/licences/"]http://www.pssg.gov....aming/licences/[/url]

So I don't need an attorney. Unless I start making lots of money.
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Venture as you may, but you have been warned. This is a very risky thing to do... very risky.

Let's say, for instance, that everything is going great. Your economy is going great, friends are to be had by the dozen, and the general population is overall satisfied. Because of this you start getting large investors that are building the lost city of Atlantis, Rome, what have you. Well one thing you're not thinking about is that in every economy there is a mischievous person lurking in the shadows. When your economy is at it's strongest that person is going to strike; and strike hard. He is going to know about some flaw, some security hole, some simple mistake and drain your economy dry and then bring down your servers. Then what? Where do you go from there? I can guarantee you that someone is going to be knocking on your door.

You think you're secure?

BitCoins, as many know, is a virtual currency. Well guess what: [url="http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/06/22/6917264-bitcoin-virtual-money-gets-hacked-and-heisted"]http://technolog.msn...ked-and-heisted[/url]

That is one example.

The bottom line is you are human and you are not perfect. If we were all perfect none of us would have a job because the world would be running smoothly. You are going to have bugs, holes, etc. so you need to protect yourself. Sit back and think about it for a few days. Stop seeing $ and start seeing reality. One rule that you need to remember... Protect your investments.What is man made is man broken.
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[quote name='polyfrag' timestamp='1313540560' post='4850091']
I only need a gambling license if I'm holding ticket raffles, poker, independent bingos, wheel of fortune, etc.

[url="http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/gaming/licences/"]http://www.pssg.gov....aming/licences/[/url]

So I don't need an attorney. Unless I start making lots of money.
[/quote]
What about the law in all the other countries you are intending to offer this service? Have you checked those. The laws regarding gambling (and what constitutes gambling) differs from country to country and state to state. That is why you need an experienced gaming (gambling) lawyer.
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By the time I get to $9,000,000 my game will be VERY secure.

[quote]What about the law in all the other countries you are intending to offer this service?[/quote]
I'll be like Pirate Bay; I will only be effected by the laws of my country.

How about I google the country/state of each person that signs up and read about their gambling laws? LuLz

I will wait until I get a Cease and Desist order.
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[quote name='polyfrag' timestamp='1313547865' post='4850118']
By the time I get to $9,000,000 my game will be VERY secure.

[quote]What about the law in all the other countries you are intending to offer this service?[/quote]
I'll be like Pirate Bay; I will only be effected by the laws of my country.

How about I google the country/state of each person that signs up and read about their gambling laws? LuLz

I will wait until I get a Cease and Desist order.
[/quote]

Good luck with that attitude! I can promise you that after about half a year in business your going to have a lawsuit on your hands - also, you're'nt [i]just[/i] regulated by national law but also by international and cross-border laws; if you check gambling sites you'll notice they have quite a bit of legalese covering different laws in different countries and all kinds of other problems.

But hey, if you get nine million dollars I'm sure you won't mind the five million in damages! :)
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Well, I contacted [color="#1C2837"][size="2"][url="http://obscure.co.uk/"]http://Obscure.co.uk[/url] but I think it's too early. I'll try again when I have a finished game.[/size][/color]

[color="#1C2837"][size="2"]EDIT: Oh, I have to look in the Directory. Well, I'll do it in a few months.[/size][/color]
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I think I've found what I needed.

[url="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Game-Monetization/260833867279566?v=wall"]https://www.facebook...67279566?v=wall[/url]

Not sure if talking to an attorney or this is better.

According to them gambling is legal in most places, so I will only have to get a gambling license for US and some other countries.

[url="http://blog.betable.com/where-is-gambling-legal"]http://blog.betable....-gambling-legal[/url]

EDIT: Never mind. It's for random-chance gambling.
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[quote name='polyfrag' timestamp='1313614517' post='4850466']
I think I've found what I needed.

[url="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Game-Monetization/260833867279566?v=wall"]https://www.facebook...67279566?v=wall[/url]

Not sure if talking to an attorney or this is better.

According to them gambling is legal in most places, so I will only have to get a gambling license for US and some other countries.

[url="http://blog.betable.com/where-is-gambling-legal"]http://blog.betable....-gambling-legal[/url]

EDIT: Never mind. It's for random-chance gambling.
[/quote]

No you don't need a gambling license as long as you stay under the radar. As long as you don't advertise your game on newspapers, TV or places where regular businesses advertise.
Your top priority should be making your game addictive. That will create revenue in itself without the need to promise cash payouts.
What you should ask yourself, and that is more of a design issue, is whether using real money will make your game more addictive. I can say almost certainly probably not, because your economy is not to scale.
And can only create you legal issues.
We live in the era of gaming/gambling, where the line between the two is vanishing. Most countries are only now creating laws to tackle this.
I have lost track of how many established games are just disguised gambling.
I will not name them here because I don't want to get into trouble myself.
They are even worse than illegal casinos, because these games are aimed at kids.
Nobody will care what you do until you become a big fish.
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