Clubs and casinos no cash cows

by staff writer Karin Pankhurst
Metaverse Messenger, March 21 2006

The sheer amount of casinos and clubs present in Second Life suggest that there is quite some money to be made by owning one. After all, a slot machine typically coughs up less dollars than it swallows, and additionally, popular places get so-called ‘presence money’ from the Lindens. However, most owners seem to operate at a loss. What’s more surprising: not all of them mind.

As a poll conducted earlier this month by the Metaverse Messenger showed, 10% of SL inhabitants who run a basic account, would leave our world if their weekly stipends were to come to a halt, and of those on premium accounts, a steep 27% would leave. But what about the traffic money?

The Linden traffic money coming to an end might topple the balance for some casino or club owners. Minnie Valentine, owner of a club in Hanson, is worried and wrinkles her pretty face when she elaborates. ‘The traffic money does not pay all that I lose on the club, but it helps. Not getting this subsidy from the Lindens would make it much more difficult for me to run it. I don’t want to throw in rentals or ads, that would take away a lot from the atmosphere. And while I’m not in it for the money, at he end of the month though it might be too costly for me to keep the club.

Owning a casino or a club is a complex matter. While some regard them as money makers, the price of keeping up a place like that is nevertheless huge. In order to attract people, an owner needs to fluff up the place with camping chairs and a well-hung money tree, add some streaming music, and perhaps throw in a raffle ball. But it’s a tight balance. You don’t want to end up with a place that’s merely being landmarked as a good place to bum, with residents sleeping in your chairs while they are mentally engaged elsewhere. So what’s the trick?

Sinful Pleasures Mall owner Seola Sassoon, a sassy pony-tailed blonde who has the gift of the gab, explains: ‘Anyone can stuck a bunch of stuff on a parcel and call it a casino, but you need to be around. You have to invest your own time to make the place really work. People want to chat, and to have fun.’ Currently, her mall costs her: the rent is steep and she gives away quite some money to the people who don the place. ‘But I hope that with a few more slots, combined with rental spaces and some donations, I can come close to breaking even.’

Sarah Nerd, the owner of club cum casino Angry Ant, is even more outspoken. ‘Management is very important, you have to organize plenty of events to attract new people, and of course you need to be giving away money, but the people who hang out here are crucial. They make the place tick, more than anything else.’ She ponders the matter and reiterates: ‘They make or break it.’ Ms Nerd has spent a lot of time to create a popular place, and believes that such an effort is conditional to one’s survival as a club or casino owner. ‘Some owners clearly mistake what they are doing. People come into SL everyday thinking they are going to get rich because they read an article somewhere. But SL only works for those who throw themselves in heart and soul.’ She herself spends quite some money on Angry Ant, but considers that investment to be well spent: ‘I love the regulars here. They make me feel great.’

But other club and casino owners have already thrown in the towel. As Scott Miranda says: ‘It was profitable when I was online a lot, but I don’t really have the time now.’ Currently, he’s playing other people’s slot machines to make his living in SL.


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