Big Fish $155 Million Settlement Finalized by Federal Judge, Says Aristocrat
Posted on: March 2, 2021, 04:27h.
Last updated on: March 2, 2021, 04:52h.
Australian slot machine giant Aristocrat Gaming announced to the ASX Tuesday that a US federal judge in Washington state has given final approval to a $31 million settlement of two class-action lawsuits related to its Big Fish social casino platform.
That’s good news for the plaintiffs in the suits, the small fry taking on the Big Fish. They’re former players of the social casino site who claimed that they were the victims of predatory illegal gambling games. It’s not so good for Big Fish’s current owner, Aristocrat. Nor for former Big Fish Games owner Churchill Downs, which is on the hook for around $124 million.
The $155 million figure at least will come as no surprise to the two companies, which reached an agreement in principle to settle in May last year. The final sign-off came two weeks ago from the US Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Something of Value?
Aristocrat purchased Big Fish from Kentucky-based Churchill Downs in 2017 for $900 million, three years after Churchill had acquired the formerly independent games studio.
As part of the settlement, Seattle-based Big Fish agreed to establish a voluntary self-exclusion policy and to change the game’s mechanics so that players who run out of virtual chips can continue playing without having to buy more.
Both Aristocrat and Churchill continue to deny that the Big Fish platform ever broke Washington state gambling laws.
Crucially, Judge Milan D. Smith disagreed when he delivered his shock March 2018 ruling that the virtual play chips used in the games constituted “something of value,” despite their lack of direct monetary worth.
Shockwaves for Games Industry
Smith’s interpretation meant that the play-money games fell into the classification of gambling, which Washington state defines as “risking something of value on the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the person’s control or influence to receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.”
All previous attempts to sue social games developers for offering “illegal gambling” had been laughed out of court.
Smith’s ruling had huge ramifications for the social games industry, and not just games that aped casino slots. Any game that included chance-based mechanics and in-game microtransactions could now be seen to violate the law.
That could prove to be a problem for a state like Washington with a thriving video games development sector. In fact, two Washington lawmakers have introduced a bill that seeks to safeguard the state’s 20-percent share of the global industry and protect it from future lawsuits.
State Rep. Zach Hudgins’s (D-11th) and State Sen. Mark Mullet’s (D-5th) legislation would modify state gambling law to exempt games where players do not cash out for real money.
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Last Comments ( 142 )
This is the reply I received when I emailed the administrator: We are currently preparing to send every person that filed a claim, a Claim Determination Notice by email. This Notice will provide each claimant with their Lifetime Spending amount and 21 days to dispute, challenge and provide further information to supplement their claim. At this time, we do not know exactly when final payment amounts will be calculated or when settlement checks will be mailed. For more information, please visit www.BigFishGamesSettlement.com.
Mine was direct deposited today
When I got the news back in December 2020 I was shocked. Since this news I have been trying to close my account for big fish casino
Still nothing on a payment
I’m a 1... when I added up my lifetime spending over the past 7 years I almost fainted!!! I have been told they are working on the emails to each claimant... but haven’t seen anything as of yet. They did say the settlement home page would announce once emails have gone out... so I keep checking!
I sure wish we could get our little checks in the mail I definitely need it come on big fish
I also just tried to log in after months and I am getting an error that apparently means I am banned.
They blocked and banned both my accounts on BFC and both of my accounts on JMS on 3/31. Right before the monthly VIP purchase bonuses were out. One of my accounts in JMS was a tier 13 ready to jump to level 14. They did this with no warning because i told them they had broken all my accounts and I was going to have to start over. Told tem that I was not going to make a purchase unless my luck picked up. Tried to log on the next morning and found out I had been banned and blocked. They said they would use every measure to make sure that the player (me) would be unable to play in either app. I had made some very good friends on both apps over the years. Now I have no way of contacting them. 1 friend told me the accounts are still there and you can still send messages to them. It just looks like I'm not playing and that I am ignoring them. That includes the club I was in. This hurts because I would have liked to stay in touch with them. BFC was the first online game app I ever downloaded and played. I am very angry they did this. It was the ultimate betrayal and unjustified considering all the money and time I invested in them over the years. They would not even discuss it with me. They just told me any further inquiries regarding the accounts would go unanswered. I was furious!!
Oh yes one more thing I had two accounts. Lost one 2 1/2 years ago I’m hoping they go back to my other account also! I am also a 10 tier player so y’all know how much money that is!!!
A little over 4 so I’d say 3 Just saw a statement that said 60 days after settlement was reached. What day was that?
They absolutely are banning some folks in this settlement. I have spoken to several people who have filed a part of the claim and the specific accounts banned. I was also banned and the account I have after August of 2020 was not. I was level 410 and Tier 10 which everyone knows that in Big Fish it was originally super pricey. I also rarely played it so there is no other reason. I emailed and was given a generic response that my ticket had been sent for further evaluation and I have not heard from anyone. And yes, people will be spending their settlements in the game. Lol I stopped playing when I had that account get banned for literally no reason. I had not played or purchased on it in months.
They are not banning any accounts that participate in the lawsuit. There are still players who spend a ridiculous amount of money and banning them would be detrimental to company. The settlement was going to be paid regardless of who did or didn’t participate.
Yeah..what's up with the payment .I've read up on everything and I haven't seen a letter or an email yet except for the one xo firming my claim...I hope this is for real because I've lost a lot of money playing this game..
They banned my accounts. Did they anyone elses who submitted a claim?
Anyone else get their accounts banned that they used on claim form? Every single one of mine there for BF and JPM were banned. I had the BF one since wow...I do not know. I had stopped playing because it was so hard to win in but she was level 480 and I was given no explanation as to why they did that. She was Tier 10 and my JPM was Tier 12. I had a cpl smaller ones that were Tier 6 etc. But anyone who played BFC first knows that it cost an extremely large amount of money to level up tiers. Only recently have they reduced it and that was due to the lawsuit. As part of the lawsuit they were supposed to give players chips when they ran out. You see how much that is. That is a joke and it makes players feel forced to still buy. I no longer play but created an account to see changes and it is still the same. Funny thing is I won a TON NOT EVER BUYING. Anyways good luck with getting the money - I am excited. But I am aware the money will NOT be as much as folks are thinking originally. The lawyers got a huge amount almost 40 million and over 50k players had submitted claims as of December. So that is 50k players who will get part of around 115 million total now since the lawyers were given 40m. It will not be much but hey - it is something I guess.