6:00pm

Wed February 2, 2011
All Tech Considered

$12 Million In Online Currency Is Worth How Much?

How much can $12 million in stolen digital currency buy? Probably not as much as you think, just ask Ashley Mitchell.

According to The Herald Express, this IT businessman from Devonshire, England, has admitted in the Exeter Crown Court to crimes related to the stealing of digital currency from Zygna's Texas Hold 'Em game on Facebook.

Selling the 400 billion poker chips on the black market could have earned Mitchell about $298,117 (£184,000). But he was only able to cash in $85,870 (£53,000) before his arrest. The chips' value — if sold by to players by Zynga — was estimated at $12 million.

Jas Purewal, a London-based games lawyer, noted in an interview with Develop that the case set a new precedent in regard to online gaming currency:

"The court effectively found that, even though virtual currency isn't real and is infinite in supply, it still can deserve legal protection in the same way as real world currency."

Online gambling is currently illegal in the United States, and has been since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006. In 2010 the House Financial Services Committee passed Barney Frank's Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act by a 41-22-1 vote, which could lead the way to back for legal online gambling in the U.S. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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