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  1. #1
    The Buzz's Avatar
    The Buzz is offline GPWA Gossip Hound
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    Default Class action lawsuit alleges mobile app developer used illegal gambling practices

    Interesting situation in the U.S. state of Washington where a class action lawsuit was filed against Big Fish Games, an app developer that makes "free-to-play" online casino games, alleging it used illegal gambling practices in its apps.

    The complaint, filed 11 February in U.S. District Court, said that Big Fish Games, Inc. used practices similar to casinos to "reap huge profits" while never paying out anything of monetary value. The lawsuit accuses Seattle-based Big Fish Games, Inc., its owners Aristocrat Technologies Inc. and its previous owners Churchill Downs Incorporated, of operating illegal online casino games.

    From an article that appeared on Komo News in Seattle:

    The games start players off with a free, finite set of virtual chips they can use for slot machine and other casino-style games, the complaint said. After the chips run out, players can't play anymore unless they buy chips through in-app offers or micro-transactions that start at 99 cents but can run up to hundreds or thousands of dollars.

    In "social casino" games like the ones made by Big Fish Games, there's no way to accumulate more chips unless you win them by wagering chips you already have, or by buying more, the lawsuit said. This is unlike other mobile games that give players the option of a paywall or to wait a certain amount of time to play after losing lives or credits.

    The complaint said developers of the games "have begun exploiting the same psychological triggers as casino operators." They referenced gaming publications like PC Gamer that wrote about the similarities of micro-transactions in video games to casinos.

    Some that download the app don't spend a dime on the game, but the complaint said the company depends on certain customers known as "whales," similar to how casinos operate.
    The complaint goes on to say that the games also "contribute to gambling addicts who migrate from casino game apps to online gambling," through a study that linked the high revenue of "free-to-play" games and the low number of gamers who actually purchase in-app items.

    Big Fish Games' premier product is "Big Fish Casino, and brings in an annual revenue of over $100 million, and all of their casino games combined bring in revenues of over $200 million," the complaint said.

    Read the entire article here:

    On a semi-related note, this week's GPWA poll is asking our members if they offer free-to-play versions of gambling games on their websites. Vote in the poll here:

  2. #2
    econfox is offline Private Member
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    Hahahaha. It is about time. I was in SF when all of the "free to play" casino games became big. They were all developed with real money casino play in mind. At the time they thought online gaming would soon be legal across the US and it was a way to build a profitable database of players. When it didn't happen they went to a freemium model and made a lot of money.

    It is just like the people at Draftkings and Fanduel who said daily fantasy sports wasn't sports betting. They lie a lot but they also have a lot of money to buy protection from politicians.

    Offering free to play on my website is a good marketing tool if I am collecting the personal information for email campaigns but that is different than getting them to sign up today.

  3. #3
    AussieDave's Avatar
    AussieDave is offline Public Member
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    November 2005
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    The ex Fortune Lounge (aka digimedia) casinos, also offer a "free play" version to Australian players, which is identical to the above. While they give 4,000 free credits on signup. After they are lost, a player MUST purchase further credits, to continue to play. EG - $1 = $1 casino credit. Be interesting to see if this "lawsuit" pricks their ears. I'm sure the AU government would see an identical motive.
    Compliance: a code word for control

    Do the right thing, even when no one is looking. It's called integrity.

  4. #4
    Cash Bonus's Avatar
    Cash Bonus is offline Private Member
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    A casino shouldn't be held accountable for anyone who develops a taste and addiction for gambling (they may already be addicts to start off with or they might become gambling addicts and problem gamblers later) just because they developed a taste for actual gambling from playing casino video games on their computers. If their free-play runs out and they want to pay money in order to keep on playing, well then, that decision is entirely up to them.

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