A judge’s recent decision declaring social casino gaming to be a form of gambling in a lawsuit against Big Fish Games has spawned a flurry of new lawsuits against social. free-to-play, operators. In the last week alone, Huuge Games, DoubleDown Interactive, High5 Games, and Playtika have all been hit with lawsuits from the same aggrieved player claiming that the companies are engaged in a form of illegal gambling. It’s a troubling trend that could have significant implications for social casino operators in the United States.
The avalanche of legal action comes on the heels of an appellate court ruling in which virtual chips, the kind used by virtually every social casino, were defined as being, “something of value” and therefore were form of gambling in the state of Washington. That same ruling allowed a case against Big Fish to move forward and inspired the attorneys at Tousley Brain Stephens to sue every social casino they could think of on behalf of several players who lost between $ 20-$ 1000 on “free-to-play” sites.
In their legal filings, as reported on by GeekWire,the attorneys state their case saying:
Double Down Casino games are illegal gambling games because they are online games at which players wager things of value (the chips) and by an element of chance (e.g., by spinning an online slot machine) are able to obtain additional entertainment and extend gameplay (by winning additional chips).
None of this news bodes well for the companies who have been operating social casinos in good faith for years and are now staring down the barrel of a series of potentially catastrophic, and potentially class-action, lawsuits. Complicating matters even further is the fact that these cases involve state, not Federal, law, which tends to favor the defendant.
This is a huge development for US-facing social casino operators and will certainly have consequences for all them, whether they’re currently operating in Washington State or not.
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