Most Non-casino Style Games Unlikely to be Gambling in Washington

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Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLPThe Washington State Federal District Court recently issued a decision stating: “Washington’s definition of ‘gambling’ only reaches ‘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’ and that “[m]ost games not derived from casinos involve some amount of skill and would thus be unlikely to meet the statutory definition.”

While this is not new law, it is very much a positive for traditional video game companies that offer games to players in Washington state. Washington has been a hot bed for gambling lawsuits against game companies. The flood gates opened when the Ninth Circuit ruled that a casino-style game constituted gambling under the Washington gambling statute. As reported here, in that case, the panel held that the virtual chips extended the privilege of playing the game and fell within Wash. Rev. Code § 9.46.0285’s definition of a “thing of value.” This decision conflicted with other decisions around the country which all found that virtual items, which could not be cashed out, were not things of value.

Despite this good news for traditional video game companies, the decision was not so good for the casino-style game maker in involved in the Washington state lawsuit. The Court denied its motion for certification of the issues to the Washington State Supreme Court.

Various gambling-related lawsuits remain pending in Washington state. Check back for updates.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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