Random geekery since 2005.

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POLL: Is It Gambling?

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Let’s say, hypothetically, that you had created a game that simulated video poker.  Users can download the app for free, and they play with free credits that can’t be purchased in any way, nor can they be cashed in for anything at all.

Is that gambling?

Let’s now say, hypothetically, that in this video poker app, you created an offer to all of your users to award the first person each month that achieves a ROYAL FLUSH a prize of a giant, stuffed teddy bear.  The users still risk none of their own money, but playing the game “might” win them the prize.

Is that gambling?

Now let’s swap out that teddy bear for a $100 gift card.  Does that change anything?

Now is it gambling?

I’m considering this approach with my app, to encourage more people to play more often, but I also am jail-averse.  I’m also massive-fine-averse.  But to me, this seems about as cut and dried as it can get.  How could it possibly be gambling if the player never risks anything?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments.  I am sincerely interested in your opinions, and if you know a lawyer that has any insight into this, I’d love a chance to chat with them.



3 responses to “POLL: Is It Gambling?”

  1. Doug Avatar

    Let’s now say that the game is Halo? Is it still gambling? IMO it’s just a video game, but lawyers may feel differently.

  2. John Chapman Avatar
    John Chapman

    I don’t know what the technical legality behind this is, but I do not think it is just a video game. Halo is considered a game of skill. I believe that Video Poker is considered a game of luck. As such Video poker is more likely to be considered gambling. In places where gambling is illegal you can still play a game of skill competitively for money.

    I would be shocked if there is an issue here, but I wouldn’t trust it to people posting comments. Probably makes sense to ask a lawyer.

  3. Brent Avatar

    It seems to me that risk is an essential aspect to gambling, and you have emphasized that the player is unable to risk anything outside the game from within it. Thus, I don’t think it’s gambling in any rational* sense.

    *Note: Government is the final arbiter in all legal decisions (including those regarding itself), has lots of guns and lots of jails, and is not at all interested in rationality. It can be very dangerous to your safety and liberty to assume the government’s law is coincidentally aligned with rationality or morality.


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