Japan Plans to Ban Rolling the Dice in Virtual Worlds


Posted: September 24, 2012

Updated: October 4, 2017

The Japanese gaming industry debates if playing dice for a virtual currency in Dragon Quest X can be considered gambling.

The Japanese newspaper Yomiuri online ran an article introducing massively different point of views concerning gambling in virtual worlds.

In Dragon Quest X, a popular multi-player game selling 500,000 copies a month since its release, virtual characters have the chance to play games of dice within the main game. The dice-game uses DQ X’s own virtual currency, named simply Gold.

Dragon Quest X virtual currency and rare items can be traded for Japanese yens on real money trade (RMT) sites. On one such site, 1,000 DQ X Gold can be sold for 70 yen, and bought for 110 yen. The total of Japan’s unregulated RMT market is estimated to be worth at least a staggering 10 billion yen.

The opponents of in-game dice-rolling argue that real-money convertibility turns the game into a kind of unauthorized betting, which is prohibited by several Japanese gambling laws.

Square Enix, the makers of “Dragon Quest X” responded by saying: “Players are exchanging virtual currency only within the confines of the game. It’s still within the range of play.”

Another game industry analyst explained the difference in DQX’s in-game gambling and internet betting in Japan: “Virtual currency used inside online games has no economic value. It isn’t subject to gambling charges.”

However, some legal opinions claim the opposite, comparing DQ X’s dice games to online casinos in Japan: “Since there are cash-out systems, it’s possible that the trading of virtual currencies could constitute gambling.”

Takashi Kiso, president of the International Casino Institute, compared the virtual dice-rolling to pachinko, with the difference of players exchanging prizes outside the establishment.

Kiso pointed out: “Since a large number of primary and middle school students play ‘Dragon Quest X,’ the situation appears to be problematic from an educational viewpoint.” Kiso emphasized that the amusement business control law prohibits people under 18 from entering pachinko parlors.

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