Reuters (now with their own Second Life Bureau desk!) reports that the US Congress is considering how virtual economies such as those within Second Life and World of Warcraft interact with US tax code. According to federal economist Dan Miller:
Right now we’re at the preliminary stages of looking at the issue and what kind of public policy questions virtual economies raise — taxes, barter exchanges, property and wealth... You could argue that to a certain degree the law has fallen (behind) because you can have a virtual asset and virtual capital gains, but there’s no mechanism by which you’re taxed on this stuff.
Meanwhile, various legislatures around the country are experimenting with various forms of regulation of the content and distribution of violent console, computer and online games, such as "Bully" and "Grand Theft Auto."
The larger question is, what are the main areas of federal government public policy regulation and enforcement that apply potentially to virtual environments, besides the tax code and violent game content? Here's a brief fly-over of the possible federal agencies and bodies that might have a role in the regulation of virtual worlds.