Four More Washington State Play Money Sites Slapped with Class Action Suits, Following Big Fish Casino Appellate Court Decision

April 11th, 2018 by Jon Sofen

In Washington State, class action lawsuits have been filed against four social gaming sites in which the operators are alleged to have violated state law by charging customers to compete in play money casino games. Those followed suit on a case against online site Big Fish Casino that had been initially dismissed back in 2015 when filed by a player, but was then overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in March.

Washington Double Down Social Casino

Double Down Casino is among the social casinos facing class action lawsuits for offering play money casino games in Washington that have now been deemed to be illegal by an appellate court decision. (Image: theneatthingsinlife.com)

How It Got This Far

Cheryl Kater, a customer of Big Fish Casino, filed a lawsuit against the social casino in 2015, claiming she paid for play money chips which, of course, have no monetary value to the customer.

She lost that case at the time, but last month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling. Judge Milan D. Smith ruled that “free play” casino chips represent a “thing of value,” making them a violation of Washington State Revenue Code § 9.46.0285.

In response to the court’s ruling, PokerStars blocked Washington residents from accessing its play money site to avoid any potential legal issues.

PokerStars doesn’t charge a penny to play free money poker games, unlike Big Fish Casino, but the court has determined that virtual casino chips represent a “thing of value,” which, in turn, constitutes gambling. And since online gambling isn’t legal in Washington State, even seemingly harmless play money casino games are illegal.

Online Social Casinos Feel the Brunt

In response to the court’s March ruling, two consumers have filed lawsuits over the past week against four social casinos – Double Down Interactive, Playtika, High 5 Games, and Huuuge Games – for violating state law.

One of the lawsuits names Double Down Casino, an app that gives customers a daily allotment of chips to play slot machines and table games with the option to purchase additional play money chips. Plaintiff Adrienne Benson says she spent approximately $1,000 playing “free” games on Double Down. Gamemaker IGT is also named in the suit.

“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),” the lawsuit states.

The second plaintiff, Sean Wilson, claims he lost all of $20 paying for games that he could have played for free, and is now suing Huuuge, High 5, and Playtika (along with Caesars Interactive Entertainment) social casinos for damages.

The conflicts between individual state rulings, often foreign operators, and the innately murky and varying definitions of “gambling” pretty much guarantee these won’t be the last of these social gaming lawsuits, which is not good news for the American internet gambling landscape.

14 Responses to “Four More Washington State Play Money Sites Slapped with Class Action Suits, Following Big Fish Casino Appellate Court Decision”

  1. gjwalk says:

    How are these “play chips” a thing of value? It’s not like you can buy anything with them. The only thing you can win is more time playing with them. What next? are they going to outlaw “Monopoly” because of all that play money can be considered a thing of value because it allows you to purchase virtual real estate.

    • Roy says:

      ‘Virtual’ Value …. LOL … and the world continues to spin out of control ……..

    • mtl mile end says:

      Is April 11 double April Fools day?

      Don’t be silly. No one is going to outlaw Monopoly. However, if you should be the kind of criminal that would profit from providing the venue to play Monopoly, well then you’re going to mother f*cking prison!

      This is the “perfect storm” of whiny stupidity (pathetic) meets overzealous judicial system (crazy).

  2. slayerupon says:

    Lmao who spends $1000 on play money chips!

    • Shaker says:

      They pray on the sickly , elderly, drinkers, people in medication and lonely people that’s how. $1000 is nothing compare to what a lot of us have spent. That’s in a few days for a lot of us. Not everyone had a casino by them. No it’s not really money. They trick players by having social clubs to gain rank and stature sucking players into more and more purchases to keep up with other players.
      There are a tone of games on the internet that cost money.

  3. Roy says:

    Reading about a lot of the free games, there’s plenty written about those who spent huge $$$ on Farmville and games like Candy Crush … buying extended lives … crazy, but true.

  4. Andrew Popov says:

    > Plaintiff Adrienne Benson says she spent approximately $1,000 playing “free” games on Double Down.

    What is wrong with American laws and justice? The careless player lost $ 1000 (playing free chips !!) and blames everyone for this, except for himself ?! This is madness. The legislative system forbids ALL to do anything, just because one idiot did it wrong …

    Let’s all drink cold coffee, just because one idiot spilled hot on himself. Let’s imprison those who make hot coffee. After all, “John Doe” spilled it on his pants lost his ability to reproduce.

    The funniest thing is that the US calls itself a bulwark of democracy and law and order in the world. A system where, due to the stupidity of one idiot, the rights and freedoms of millions of people are limited, idiots are not. Oh, yes, you can not call a person an idiot either. It’s just “alternative thinking”. Another nominee for the Charles Darwin Award.

  5. Andrew Popov says:

    Roy says:
    April 11, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    ‘Virtual’ Value …. LOL … and the world continues to spin out of control ……..

    Oh no! You are wrong! Awfully wrong! The world does not get out of control – on the contrary, control over the world is increasing more and more. You can no longer decide what and how to do it – now there are laws about what you can and can not. And laws about what you can not do – more and more. More laws, fewer rights and freedoms. Soon you will have exactly one right – to pay taxes.

  6. Haemophile says:

    surely when she paid tbe $1000 it was a choice that she made. she wasn’t forced to buy these chips and I think you shouldn’t be able to sue a company for your own free will

  7. Susan Smith says:

    I played Huuuge Casino and Billionaire Casino for a 6th month period and lost $10,000 playing with my credit cards. It may sound ridiculous, but I am very sick and the games draws you in by having teams that want to climb up the ladder to get to the Masters Club. I am ashamed to admit I did this, but they push you and when you want to quit, which I told them several times, they would talk me into staying. I have a disease that effects my central nerve system and I think that played in the part of not realizing how much money I was spending on a game that took money and gave you fake chips. I also need a lung transplant, so I just kept playing at the recommendation of my club. Now I am in serious financial trouble and I am devistated and do not know what to do. I live in New Jersey and Would also like to put my name in on a class action lawsuit. Please contact me. Thank you.

  8. Bobby says:

    What… Let me get this straight… So, they spent $1000 on “free” game, then decided what they did was dumb and then sued the company they spent money with? What? And now they need to close business in DC because someone can’t get a hold of their spending? I’m so confused… The casino must’ve had a really bad lawyer to lose that…

  9. dorothy maxwell says:

    Iwould like to be include in the gsn class action lawsuit.Ihave spent money there also.

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