Big Fish Casino was tied to Churchill Downs. Churchill Downs ran the social gaming site. On a federal level, the operations were just found guilty of illegal online gambling, at least according to Washington State gaming laws. Wednesday, March 28, 2018, Judge Milan Smith, a part of the 9th Circuit of US Court of Appeals overruled the district court.
In 2015, a case started by Cheryl Kater appeared before the district court and the court did not think there was enough to rule in favor of her request. Churchill Downs Inc operated big Fish Games at the time.
In the lawsuit document, Kater said she purchased $1,000 virtual chips from Big Fish Casino. The chips did not have monetary value but were used to play a variety of games from slots to roulette. The rules online stated if one ran out of chips they would need to buy more or wait until free chips game up on the games.
Kater wanted to get the value of her chips back saying that under Washington Gambling Law the chips represented value. The district court judge in 2015, did not wish to hear the case, so it was thrown out. But, Smith has reversed the earlier decision.
Judge Milan Smith says under Washington State Law the definition of virtual chips does have something of value. The law says staking or risking something of value on a contest of change or contingent event that is not under the control of the person or influence of that person upon agreement the person should receive something of value based on specific outcomes.
The appeals court reads the laws as Big Fish Casino conducting illegal online gambling. Virtual chips are required to play at the casino, if the user wants to have an account or runs out of chips and therefore is required to buy them, then it means the privilege of playing at the casino is extended.
Kater’s Case in the District Courts
The case is being returned to the district court for more hearings. Churchill Downs will need to appear, unless they wish to argue before the appeals panel based on selling the company to Aristocrat Leisure in November 2017. The US Supreme Court may become involved. The lawsuit will undoubtedly have an impression on the US’s laws regarding the gambling industry. More players may attempt to file for losses that occurred while playing online gambling games if Kater wins.