Decentraland Gets Its First Casino and Slot Machines: Soon You Will Be Able to Gamble Using MANA and Ethereum at Chateau Satoshi

Don’t forget to register for the upcoming Decentraland Game Jam, where you have an opportunity to win a share of 2,500,000 MANA cryptocurrency tokens and 200 LAND virtual land parcels, prizes worth an estimated US$275,000 in total value. You don’t need to own any land to take part in the contest, and they’re even offering training sessions all next week (online via Twitch and at various real-world locations) on how to use the Decentraland SDK to create contest entries.


Although the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland (DCL for short) is still in closed beta test, with countless users impatiently waiting for their chance to be admitted, the first casino has already opened! So this evening I decided to pay a visit, take some photos, and even play the slots!

Chateau Satoshi
A closer look at the rotating Decentral Games logo

Decentral Games, a company that is building gambling games, has opened its first casino, called Chateau Satoshi:

The demo is now accessible to core community members and is hosted on our site and viewable in a Chrome browser. We felt this was the best means to gain valuable feedback on gameplay, scene design, on-screen UI, and overall experience. After testing and optimization, we will deploy this casino scene to 19 parcels of LAND at the entrance of Vegas City, Decentraland.

In this closed beta demo, the default gameplay is in fake PLAY currency with no blockchain interaction. It may take a few seconds for the scene to render and the games to be playable. The Free-to-Play version serves as a taste of the Decentral Games experience, without the need to register an account with us. However, in the on-screen UI gameplay box found in the lower right hand corner there’s a toggle that allows the user to switch to the MANA Payout and ETH Payout gameplay. 

(For those not familiar with the terminology being used here, LAND is the name of the 16m-by-16m virtual parcels of land in Decentraland, MANA is the cryptocurrency used in DCL, and ETH is, of course, the Ethereum cryptocurrency. Gambling using MANA and ETH are not yet available, but the company says they will be available soon.)

Here’s a few more shots of the casino interior, which is decorated in a luxurious gold-and-white Art Deco style with many grand staircases throughout:

The box in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen pops up automatically when you enter the casino grounds, and it helpfully informs you how many credits you have left, what your current bet is, and how much you have won:

Here’s a look at the slot machines, located at the main entrance of the casino, next to a soaring spiral staircase:

As you can see from this short video clip I recorded, they are actual working slot machines (I won 25 credits on the pull just before this one!):

However, there are many jurisdictions around the world that prohibit online gambling in virtual worlds (most notably, the FBI investigated gambling in Second Life in 2007, which led to Linden Lab shutting down all forms of online gambling). Decentraland Games states in their blogpost:

To comply with online gaming legislation, the MANA and ETH Payout versions will require age and location verification. We will also request authorization to transfer MANA on behalf of the player. Although an early implementation of this process is currently offered on our site, we are still optimizing its ease of use. Please just test our Free-to-Play gameplay for now. 

Using the link provided above, I did a quick check and Decentral Games is clearly screening out Americans, although it’s not clear what other countries will be banned from gambling. The company adds:

We’d like to give a big thanks to the Matic Network and Decentraland teams who have been very supportive throughout development. If you don’t yet have access to the closed beta and you’d like to join the community dialogue, join our Discord channel, direct message us on Twitter, or reach out to hello@decentral.games to request access. We’d like to welcome any feedback the community may have regarding improvements to the slots game or suggestions for new games to build in the future. 

For more information on Decentral Games, here is their website. It would appear that the company is planning to produce more types of gambling games than just slot machines, including roulette wheels:

Decentral Games website

I was actually very surprised to see this already up and running in Decentraland! And this is not some cheap-looking low-poly building; it is a very attractively-designed virtual casino, one of the nicest builds I have yet visited in-world. One thing I will say: there are a lot of people who have a lot of incentive to make DCL work, because they invested millions of dollars of their hard earned money into it. And obviously, gambling is going to be one way to monetize the outrageously expensive LAND which some people have bought.

It will be interesting to see what impact gambling will have on Decentraland, how successful it will be, and how DCL and Decentral Games will deal with the jumble of regulations around online gambling around the world. It is estimated that the size of the online casino market is roughly $40 billion or $50 billion a year, and obviously many DCL investors hope to put their LAND to good use to capture some of that money. And no doubt, there will be customers.

But I do wonder if Decentraland is going to land up looking more like a gaudy, low-poly, crypto-crazed Las Vegas strip, with nothing but gambling sites everywhere you look. Not to mention the impact on people who are susceptible to gambling addictions, who might find it hard to stay away when the casino is as close as their keyboard. I guess we’ll see how this all plays out.

One thing is certain: you can bet on interesting times ahead 😉

Is this the future of Deccentraland?
Photo by Benoit Dare on Unsplash
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Decentraland: A Project Update

Did you know that you can help support my work on this blog (as well as the Metaverse Newscast show), and get some great rewards in return? Here’s how.


Decentraland (DCL for short) is making progress!

The company is slowly letting more and more users onto the closed beta test platform (around 50 to 75 new people per week since July, last week they raised it to 150, and this week they raised it again to 400). DCL is also running weekly stress tests to see how well Decentraland performs under maximum avatar load. I have been participating in the stress tests when I can.

A quaint little lowpoly cottage I visited during today’s Decentraland stress test
Another picture taken during today’s stress testing
A closer look at the variety of avatar customization options

There are several new features in their web-based Decentraland Explorer client: a mini map in the upper-left corner so you can see where you are (a much-needed feature!), and a small user profile icon in the upper-right corner which, when clicked, displays information about your avatar. Also, they have finally integrated the avatar customization system on their website, so that your avatar now looks the way you designed and clothed him, and has the name you selected for him.

Prior to this, your avatar just had a randomly-generated appearance, and had a name of the form Guest ####, even if you had paid 100 MANA to register a custom avatar name. At current exchange rates, 100 MANA works out to about US$3.00. I still believe that charging for a custom username is a tactical mistake, and a potential roadblock to the average, non-crypto consumer that DCL will need to market to. On the other hand, it might cut down on the number of alts, which tend to be abused by the griefers who plague other virtual worlds such as Second Life.

Overall, I do get the strong impression that Decentraland is going to be the epitome of free-market capitalism in virtual worlds, charging people left and right for things that other virtual worlds offer for free. Want to play boar hunt? You gotta pay for them arrows, bud. Ten arrows cost 10 MANA (approx. US$0.40). Living and playing in Decentraland could get rather expensive! Decentraland developers and investors may want to take a close look at the 16-year history of Second Life to get an idea of what works and what doesn’t in a virtual world economy.

Many people are busy building wonderful scenes on their virtual parcels of LAND, and there is already much to see. There’s even a spreadsheet making the rounds, listing all the places the DCL sightseer can visit!

Life on the Blockchain (a tower with scenes of everyday life),
a Decentraland scene built by Interweaver

Don’t forget to join the Decentraland SDK Hackathon (which seems to have been renamed as the SDK Game Jam), running from Sept. 16th to 30th, 2019, where you can win a share of 2,500,000 MANA and/or 200 LANDs (with a total cash value of over US$250,000)! Just click the link above for more details on the contest, and how to apply. Good luck to all the contestants!


However, one of the things that I do find a little troubling about this virtual world project is that there seem to be a lot of people who have piled onto the cryptocurrency bandwagon, and rather blindly invested in MANA (Decentraland’s cryptocurrency) or LAND (Decentraland’s virtual land) without doing a lot of proper research into the project. Some people still think (wrongly) that DCL supports virtual reality, for example. I find that people are asking the same newbie questions over and over again. It’s not hard to scroll through and find comments like the following over on the official Decentraland Discord channels:

A: Can I explore without an invitation? I set up an avatar etc.

B: Does anyone know how to get early access to DCL?

C: So can we build things & bring them into Genesis city, for example?

D: hi all. i am new. i dont know how this works. what is the first step i should take here?

E: Hello I have one parcel. Can I rent it ?

I almost get the feeling of the Yukon Klondike Gold Rush, where everybody and their dog headed north, eagerly in search of gold, fueled by greed and tales of the few people who became millionaires. It will be fascinating to watch Decentraland’s economy evolve over time.

Image of one of Decentraland’s plazas

Editorial: How Much Freedom Does Blockchain Really Convey? Artur Sychov Talks About Somnium Space 2.0

The VR news website VR Focus did a good profile on Somnium Space co-founder and CEO Artur Sychov at the recent Gamescom 2019 conference in Cologne, Germany, where he talked about the upcoming Somnium Space 2.0 update and shared a few shots of what it looks like:

As I have mentioned before, Somnium Space is planning to integrate blockchain as part of their social platform, stating on their website:

In the VR Focus video, Artur describes what he sees as some of the benefits of blockchain:

As I said, there are two ways you can do it: either we have a centralized approach like any other game in the world including Second Life, which has 500 million dollars revenue per year, or we do it decentralized. And centralized means, as a company, we hold all the information about all your items, all your belongings, on our servers. The only problem is, for the player… if there is anything happening, so you work hard for years and you earn some items and money inside the game and you own avatars and everything, but once you get banned for any reason… your items are gone. You are not in control of your belongings. On the other hand, a decentralized economy, a blockchain economy, allows you to own those items on the token and we as the company have no way how to influence that. For example, you own an avatar, it’s on a blockchain token, you can go and sell it on the open market and if we decide to ban you… you can still go and sell your avatar on the free market, and we have no influence over that, so we cannot stop you to do so and that’s the power of the blockchain. We have decoupled the economy from Somnium as an operating company, and we give this power back to the users.

Now, this all sounds wonderful, but I do wonder if Somnium Space is going to run into some serious technical issues when they try to implement this truly decentralized plan. Decentraland is an example of a blockchain-based virtual world that promised a decentralized implementation, a promise on which it has not yet delivered. Saying that you own something like virtual land on the blockchain is one thing, but if the servers providing access to your land are centralized (as Decentraland’s servers are right now), that proof of ownership is meaningless if they decide to shut the service down at some point in the future. And the same thing applies to Somnium Space.

But that’s not the only concern I have. In this video, Artur says that blockchain could be used as a way to evade a ban from the company, citing the example that a blockchain-based avatar could still be sold on the free market, outside the control of Somnium Space.

Let’s examine this idea more carefully. Since this was filmed during a conference in Germany, let’s say you create an avatar that breaks Germany’s strict laws banning denial of the Holocaust. (For example, an avatar holding a large picket sign claiming that the genocide of 6 million European Jews, as well as millions of others, including gypsies and homosexuals, never actually happened.)

First, are you claiming that avatar representation on your platform will be completely decentralized, that is, distributed over multiple servers worldwide over which the company has zero control? The technical implementation issues would be enormous, I would think. I can’t think of a single social VR platform or virtual world that has been able to do this (and if I am wrong, somebody please correct me).

And second, what happens if the German government knocks on Somnium Space’s door and insists that the Holocaust-denying avatar be completely banned from Somnium Space accessed from German computers, in accordance with their law? Facebook is just one example of a company that has fallen afoul of German Holocaust denial laws.

Or let’s look at this with a different example. What if your avatar were a sexually explicit one, being used for child pornography purposes? I think you will agree with me that any social VR platform which gives such complete, unfettered freedom to avatar creators is going to run into many serious legal problems from a variety of jurisdictions around the world.

All being on the blockchain means is that you can prove you own something. Period. It doesn’t confer the freedom to do whatever you want, possibly running afoul of corporate policy and global laws. And I would be cautious of any company that makes these kinds of promises, especially in these wearying days of relentless blockchain hyperbole. There’s lots of breezy talk in the cryptocurrency and blockchain community about concepts such as “decentralization” and “ownership” and “freedom”, without a lot of serious thinking about the consequences if such a vision were to be fully implemented. We need to have those discussions, too.

I look forward to exploring Somnium Space 2.0 when it comes out. The early teaser shots look wonderful, and I think that moving to full-body avatars is a great idea. There’s lots of good ideas in Somnium Space, but I am a little concerned (and a little skeptical) about some of the blockchain-related promises being made in this video. Sorry, Artur! Please don’t take this personally. You know I will point out potentially problematic issues on this blog when I run across them, and Somnium Space is not the only blockchain-based virtual world I have criticized. You will remember that I also gave you a hard time with that whole “eternal life” promise you made last year. You just need to reign back on the promises a bit, until the technology catches up 😉

So, what do you think? Please feel free to leave a comment below or, as always, you are welcome to join the freewheeling conversations and debates about social VR and virtual worlds taking place on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, the first cross-worlds discussion forum!


Thanks to Artur Sychov for the heads up on the video!

DCLBlocks: A New In-World Building Tool in Decentraland

Decentraland is inviting participants from its June Hackathon to post to their official blog about their achievements. This week’s guest blogger is Interweaver (a.k.a. Noah), who shared his experiment with in-world building blocks in Decentraland:

In this blog post I’ll be talking about how I designed and implemented my Decentrablocks project. The idea for this scene was simple: I wanted to be able to intuitively build things while actually standing in the scene, not in a separate Builder or with an external text editor and modeling software (as one does with the SDK). Also, I’m not a 3D artist, so it had to be made entirely of primitive shapes.

As you can see, this is a tool very similar to the prim-building tools offered by Second Life, as well as High Fidelity’s in-world building tools.

You can read Interweaver’s blogpost in full to get all the details on how he did this. He’s placed all his code for this project up on GitHub.

Don’t forget to register for the upcoming Decentraland SDK Hackathon. There’s still time to enter the contest, which runs from Sept. 16th-30th, and you could win your share of over US$275,000 worth of prizes, in either MANA (DCL’s cryptocurrency) or LAND (DCL’s 16 m by 16 m square plots of virtual land). Enter today!