A United States lawsuit argues that the tokens offered in some of its free social games have a value making them elements in games of chance. Aristocrat Leisure Ltd says it will “vigorously defend” this lawsuit.
Masasa Thimmegowda, the plaintiff, has launched a civil action in the District Court of Washington for seeking redress against Big Fish Games Inc.
Aristocrat Leisure bought Big Fish Games, a developer of online casino games in Washington State, early last year for US$990 million in cash. This made Aristocrat Leisure the “second-largest social casino publisher globally by revenue”, according to Krejcik Gaming LLC.
After the acquisition, a U.S. court ruled that playing Big Fish online games with virtual gaming chips amounted to illegal gambling in Washington.
It is not possible to exchange the virtual chips for cash, but a player who runs out of chips has to pay to get more in order to keep playing. Payments start at under US$1 and can run into hundreds of dollars.
According to Australian newspaper, Sydney Morning Herald, the plaintiff was a former player of “Big Fish Casino” and had lost above AUD 3,000. According to the paper, the plaintiff is just trying to recover her losses and seek appropriate relief.
A lawyer representing Manasa Thimmegowda has reported, “As we allege in our complaint, the mobile gambling industry, by design, preys on consumers by bringing additive gambling opportunities directly into their homes.”
According to JP Morgan, last September Aristocrat Leisure generated more than 30% return on its investment after acquisitions of various digital and social gaming companies.