Australian-based manufacturer of gaming machines Aristocrat Technologies announced today the settlement related to Big Fish Games was approved by the US Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Federal Court Approval
Aristocrat filed the announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) regarding the May 2020 agreement to settle claims related to the two lawsuits brought by Cheryl Kater, Suzie Kelly, and Manasa Thimmedowda.
The lawsuits were filed against online social gaming platforms Big Fish Casino, Jackpot Magic Slots, and Epic Diamond Slots, all offered by Big Fish Games, a company Aristocrat acquired from Churchill Down Incorporated (CDI) in 2018 for $990 million.
The payment linked to the agreement totaling $155 million was split between the former owner of Big Fish, CDI, which agreed to pay $124 million, and the social games brands’ current owner Aristocrat, which agreed for payment on the remaining $31 million.
Lawsuits Date Back to 2015
The lawsuit was initially launched against CDI in 2015 by Cheryl Kater, who claimed she had lost $1,000 while playing social games from her mobile phone. She argued the social games platform was in fact offering games of chance, a category prohibited by law in Washington.
Despite the ruling against her claim from a US District Court judge in Seattle in 2016, Kater was successful at the US Court of Appeals which ruled that virtual chips represented things of value, hence games offered by Big Fish constituted illegal online gambling.
By the time of the agreement, both companies placed the money in a settlement fund as compensation for money lost and reasonable lawyers’ fees, claimed from the plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and a nationwide settlement class action.
Upon reaching the settlement agreement which was pending the approval of the federal court, Aristocrat released CDI from any indemnity regarding the two class-action lawsuits.
With the filing to the ASX Aristocrat confirmed the US Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington approved the reached agreement for settlement with the plaintiffs.