January 24, 2021

Volume XI, Number 24

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January 22, 2021

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

The 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.

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Copyright © 2020, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 120
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About this Author

James Mattinson Blockchain Technology and Digital Currency Lawyer Sheppard Mullin Washington DC
Partner

Jim Gatto is a partner in the Intellectual Property Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office. He is also Co-Team Leader of the firm's Digital Media Industry and Social Media and Games Industry Teams, Blockchain Technology and Digital Currency team, and Team Leader of the firm's Open Source Team. 

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Mr. Gatto leverages his unique combination of nearly 30 years of IP experience, business insights and attention to technology trends to help companies develop IP and other legal...

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