Thursday 24 October 2013

RMT or Gambling?

Somerblink has been in a bit of hot water over their RMT (Real Money Trading) business lately. I didn't feel it was worth posting about before. However Somer's defenders have been making some incredibly stupid claims. In particular the claim that Somer isn't involved in RMT at all, it's just gambling.

just gambling? Really?

In most countries illegal gambling is a federal crime if done as a business. Federal crimes are serious crimes with big fines and long jail sentences.

There's no doubt Somerblink is a business and does make money. If they're making their money from gambling rather than from RMT that would make it illegal gambling.

You can't have it both ways. They're either an RMT operation or an illegal gambling operation. If they're an RMT operation they're just breaking the rules of the game and risking being banned from the game. However if they're an unlicensed gambling operation they're subject to real life law with big fines and long jail sentences.

It's not very bright defending something that's merely against the rules of a game by claiming it's actually a serious crime in real life.

Another question that's not being asked and should be is why was an infamous "illegal" (not quite the right word but close enough) Real Money Trader like Markee Dragon ever even allowed to be in involved in the GTC program in the first place?

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that Markee Dragon and anyone affiliated with him (Somerblink for one) are involved in shady business.


  1. I'm curious if everyone involved is paying their taxes. Prosecutors won't run you into the pokey for running a small time card game on the side since the scale we are looking at isn't worth the resources. The IRS however takes every penny as a sacred right deserving of a colon check and they generally start with the premise you are guilty and then see how much worse they can make it.

    1. I don't know about that. While somer isn't in the league of mobster gambling operations they aren't just "running a small time card game" either. The numbers being bandied about are probably exaggerated but it's not just pocket change either.

      Tax issues, which you may be right about, are another thing altogether. It's really none of CCP's business to go poking into that.

  2. SOMER is a gambling site. But because players can't directly convert isk to money it is not an illegal gambling site. In most countries gambling is perfectly legal, it's the associated real money transfers that are not.

    And I have changed my opinion on SOMER RMT as well. It is RMT.

    So SOMER is both RMT and gambling.

    Because my real answer would be a bit long to post here I would kindly ask you to read

    1. In most countries gambling is highly regulated, with licenses, fees and regulatory bodies.

      My point was that somer and their fans might want to think twice about trying to lie their way out of the stink over RMT profits by claiming they're actually gambling profits.

  3. Is PLEX RMT? Buying plex for isk means not having to spend money. Of course a person is limited to 15 dollars worth of RMT per account per month.

    1. Um no, you can buy many plexes and trade them for things like Fanfest tickets and (at one point) a graphics card. You can also buy a plex for isk and trade it to someone for out of game services like writing.

    2. Sure it's RMT of a sort, but the difference is it's CCP authorized RMT where CCP is in complete control and gets the profits. It isn't players selling ISK to other players.

  4. The community spotlight on MD is very interesting and full of surprises:

    It doesn't seem that the process was that they had an affiliate scheme and then extended it to a rather dodgy entrepreneur. It seems that it was more the case that MD pioneered the online selling of GTCs which originally were intended as physical items and had a scratchcode which he would physically scratch off then type into his site. He then pioneered affliliation.

    So basically here's a somewhat dodgy geezer who drummed up lots of revenue for CCP enriching himself and his affiliates along the way.

    It does quite frankly feel slightly sleezy but it's hard to put your finger on a point where CCP should have demurred. They are a business and it is money. He may be financially creative - with all the uncomfortable connotations of that - but he doesn't seem to be actually harming anyone - players buy the GTCs with their eyes open, sites enjoy the affiliate revenue, CCP enjoys selling more product.

  5. I cant decide if i love all the foolishness around this, or loathe it. the amount of stupid I see directed at this issue boggles the mind, and this by very intelligent people. CCP authorizes MD to sell GTC's and either sell them to MD on demand, for a price below the price offered to the consumer, or in batches, again at that lower price. so the sale of GTC's by MD is authorized by CCP It could not exist without this. CCP also would not overlook an affiliate program run by MD that pays affiliates real world $ for producing successful GTC buyers. By extension we can pretty safely assume that the $ summer gets from MD is sanctioned by CCP as part of an advertising model (which is what it is).

    When you go to the fair, or dave and busters (Chucky Cheases, major magic's, anywhere where you can trade tickets you win for items) you pay real money for some sort of token. you then use this token to play a game. the game may then reward you with a third thing, another token type, or maybe a ticket. You can then use this ticket to redeem a candy, maybe even electronics, but never, at least from that store money. It is a one way transaction. and because it is one way it is not regulated as gambling, even though they are games of chance and therefore fit part of the definition of gambling that is present in most countries. So suggesting that it is gambling doesn't make it illegal. That real money (legal tender) changes hands makes part of the process RMT, but because it is sanctioned by CCP (that is MD handing you a GTC for your $) it is not illicit RMT, or even grey market. the only thing left, the only transaction I have not covered is the bonus blink points or whatever it is they call the tokens they give you. This isn't RMT because they are not taking your money. it is a promotional item to get you to try their in game gambling site. as long as its legal (from the EULA TOS perspective) for someone to run a gambling site where they first exchange your isk for a credit and then you gamble with that credit it is legal to give away that credit if ccp approves of it.

    So summer blink is involved in RMT... but its ccp sanctioned RMT through a third party that CCP has a contract with allowing them to sell you the GTC.

    It is also gambling Hurrah!!!, though not the type of gambling that is highly regulated across the world because you can never pull your money back out.

    {As an interesting aside: In japan most forms of gambling are illegal. their favorite past time based around this is the pachinko. it is a very close cousin to the slot machine. It is illegal to gamble in Japan so what happens is that you can only exchange yen for the balls, and then at the end exchange the balls for prizes, or tokens. In many areas you can find a place not far from the parlor that will buy these tokens from you for yen. because it is a separate entity in a different location its legal. The unopened tokens are then sold back to the parlor as the place buying them from players is one of the suppliers of the tokens to the parlor.}

    there you go. everyone is throwing a fit over a place that is part of EULD, TOS, and law compliant RMT, who is also involved in highly unregulated gambling. Much to do about nothing

    I am not covering the dbnsbank (or however you spell his name) character "raffle" here because there are enough differences to change the outcome entirely. that is at best grey market RMT and at worst breaks the TOS, EULA and possibly laws.


    1. "the bonus blink points or whatever it is they call the tokens they give you. This isn't RMT because they are not taking your money."

      Wrong! They are giving you ISK (they call it bonus points but it's really just ISK) if you a buy a GTC from MD through their affiliate link. MD then gives them real money in return.

      What it all boils down to is Somerblink receives real money for ISK. Just because there's a middleman handling the money doesn't change that.

      In case you don't get it, the reason "everyone is throwing a fit" over this is simple. CCP keeps saying that RMT is not allowed and will get you banned, yet they allow MD and Somerblink to get away with it just because they pretend it's something else.

      Players are outraged because they want the same rules applied to everyone. Either ban *everyone who engages in RMT in any way, or let everyone do it.

      Making matters worse Markee Dragon is the most infamous real money trader Eve has ever had. MD was banned from the game for breaking the rules regarding RMT, there's no way he should have been allowed to sell GTCs in the first place, far less tack a poorly hidden RMT operation onto those GTC sales.

  6. To answer your question about why CCP would get into a business relationship with Markee Dragon. It seems that CCP has always had a fascination with the man. Back in 2006 after he had founded Shattered Crystal he was selling Eve time codes. That was a bit strange since at the time he was heavily involved in the WoW RMT trade as well as selling WoWGlider, the first bot that was shut down by Blizzard's lawyers. Basically he was a very big deal in the world of RMT and players protested his ties with CCP back then.

    Nowadays he's singing a different tune. Back in February 2010 he famously turned his back on "the grey market" and expelled some 200 people who made a living conducting RMT on the Markee Dragon forums onto another website. His story was that being involved with RMT was keeping game companies from doing business with him. Basically, he went straight because there wasn't enough money in the grey/black market and he wanted to make a lot more money.

    So why is CCP doing business with Markee Dragon? One reason is a very long standing relationship. The other? CCP is counting on Markee's greed to keep him in line. And isn't that a very EVE type thing to do?