PokerStars Blocks Social Games Play from Washington State
Washington State residents who want to play on social games sites such as PokerStars free casino offerings have found themselves blocked after a federal court ruled such social sites constitute gambling and could violate state law.
The ruling has also led to at least four lawsuits reportedly being filed in the state against social casino sites.
The ruling came from the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals which found that social casino games are illegal under the state’s existing gambling laws. The case revolved around a woman’s 2015 claim that she lost $1,000 in virtual chips at Big Fish’s social games site. She sued Churchill Downs, the then-parent company of Big Fish Casino over the loss.
The court ruled that under Washington law, gambling is “risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance.” The appeals court ruled that the virtual chips are a thing of value, overruling a lower court.
PokerStars told USPoker.com that it has begun blocking state residents in the wake of the ruling.
“On Thursday, March 29, 2018, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that, under Washington state law, free-to-play games violate state gambling regulations,” the company said in an email. “As a result, the Stars Group is immediately taking actions to block play related to social gaming from Washington state. We are reviewing the rulings and ensuring that our activities are in line with state regulations. We are hopeful the law will be clarified and that when it is, we will be able to reinstate all Washington players at their current status.”
Local reports also say that lawsuits involving free-to-play social casinos have been filed in the state since the ruling. The suits target social casino games from Huuuge Games, DoubleDown Interactive, High 5 Games and Playtika.
According to a report at Geekwire.com, the suits are similar in nature to the original suit which brought the appeals court ruling. Three of the suits name the same plaintiff. Lawyers for the plaintiff are seeking a class action status in the suits, the report said.