Assuming of course, that the world's oldest profession was prostitution, although I suppose that's still available on the site somewhere. If you feel like you're entering in the middle of the story, then this brief post is about the decision by New Jersey-based Linden Labs to pull the plug on all virtual casinos created by users of its popular virtual-reality universe, Second Life.
In Second Life, the eight million users pay real money to purchase elements of a virtual existence, designed to grow dynamically and mimic real life as much as possible. Among those developments were virtual casinos, which, although paid for within the site in Linden dollars, could be be re-translated into very real dollars or other holdable currency. In many ways it was an end run around gambling laws by the in-game people who programmed and ran the casino sites inside the greater game, and it was no surprise that Linden Labs first prevented U.S. citizens from accessing these sites, then, early this week, decided to eliminate them entirely from the Second Life virtual universe.
Being based in New Jersey, Linden Labs was well within reach of the aspects of the UIGEA, plus various and sundry laws that might be used by the feds looking to make a case, if not an example.
So what's likely to replace gambling in the virtual Second Life world? Right now, Yahoo! has a front-page headline linking to a story entitled "Jesuits say take word of God to Second Life." Replace "Jesuits" with "Baptists," and you'd have my front porch on the weekends, "No Solicitors" signs be, ermmm, damned. It's not that this is a bad thing, but it sure does seem sanitized, and that's the way some people want it. Maybe "Second Life" is a more apropos name then we knew, right?