More Operators Face Allegations in Offering Illegal Online Gambling under Washington State Law

A number of online gambling operators have been hit by a series of lawsuits over the last few days, with the companies facing allegations that their online casino offerings have violated Washington state law. Late last week and early this week, a total of four lawsuits were filed against four companies, including DoubleDown Interactive, Huuuge Games, Playtika and High 5 Games, accusing them in offering so-called free-to-play casino games breaching the existing state law.

The legal action follows a US Court of Appeals March ruling that found that the casino games offered by Big Fish Games have violated the Washington state’s online gambling legislation.

Each of the above-mentioned companies offers a range of casino games, such as blackjack, slots and roulette, which use virtual chips that do not have any monetary value themselves but customers are able to play only as long as there are chips in their accounts. Once players run out of chips, they are given the chance to buy chips or they are granted with more free chips by the game.

The lawsuits were filed in US District Court in Seattle and Tacoma and use pretty much the same arguments in their filings, with them also center around the the arguments used in the Big Fish Casino case. The operators have been alleged in using virtual chips to provide their customers with access to their “free-to-play” casino games. However, as explained above, the chips represent “something of value” but are not worth money on their own. Under the existing Washington state gambling law, that clause has been considered as a vague one and according to the lawsuits’ arguments constitutes illegal gambling.

Class action status is being sought by the plaintiffs for the latest series of lawsuits against gambling companies.

Big Fish Casino Hit by Federal Appeals Court’s Ruling

As explained above, the four new lawsuits filed against the four gambling operators are very similar to the one faced by Big Fish Casino has recently faced.

Big Fish Casino offers free-to-play versions of some of the all-time casino classics, with customers being allowed to play these games by using virtual chips that do not have monetary value. According to the ruling of the US Court of Appeals’ Judge Milan D. Smith, virtual chips could be described as “thing of value”, so purchasing such chips to play the casino games versions was actually illegal online gambling under the existing Washington state legislation.

The lawsuit against the Big Fish Casino parent company Churchill Downs was filed in 2015 by a regular player of the casino, Cheryl Kater. Ms. Kater claimed that virtual chips worth more than $1,000 had been bought by her so that she could get access to the games, and her legal advisors argued that the virtual chips in question could be categorized as “a thing of value”.

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