Australian gaming technology firm Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. has found itself targeted by a class action lawsuit in the United States over Big Fish Games’ virtual chips.
On Tuesday, the Australian Securities Exchange-listed gaming giant confirmed that the lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington last February 11 against Big Fish Games, the Seattle-based social gaming operation that Aristocrat bought for nearly $1 billion in 2017.
The complaint, filed a Manasa Thimmegowda, claimed “that certain games Big Fish Games offers for play are games of chance that are prohibited by Washington law.”
Thimmegowda was a Big Fish Casino player who reportedly lost over $3,000 after “regularly paying real money to purchase virtual chips,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald. She is seeking “to recover her losses and to obtain the appropriate relief” for herself and “a class of similarly situated individuals.”
Thimmegowda’s lawsuit comes less than a year after the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Big Fish’s free-to-play online games such as virtual blackjack, poker and slot machines, have been found to be “illegal online gambling” in the state of Washington.
In the ruling, the appeals court said Big Fish’s virtual chips, which are required to play in Big Fish’s suite of games, “extended the privilege of playing” in the company’s series of interactive social games, which means that it falls under the Washington state law’s definition of a “thing of value.”
The Washington state law defined gambling as “the staking or risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the person’s control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that the person or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.”
Aristocrat said none of its parties or Big Fish has been served with the complaint for Thimmegowda’s lawsuit, but it “intends to vigorously defend the action.”