Aristocrat Finally Settles Big Fish Lawsuits

By Ben Hamill - May 26 2020
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Aristocrat Finally Settles Big Fish Lawsuits

Australian slot machine manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure knows all about falling victim to terrible timing. The company has agreed to part with a settlement in the amount of $31 million in order to at long last put a class action lawsuit instituted by U.S. players to bed. The players in question claim to have lost large amounts of money from having purchased what is known in the world of social casino games as ‘virtual chips’, which chips had been purchased from Aristocrat Leisure’s Big Fish Games.

Related: Gold Rush Files Countersuit In Gaming Saga

Aristocrat acquired Big Fish Games roughly 2 years ago for a mammoth $1.3 billion. Big Fish is a developer of social casino games. Even though the games are 100% free to download, customers still have to purchase virtual chips in order to keep playing social casino games like Poker, slots and Blackjack. 

Aristocrat Paid For Trouble

Aristocrat had been completely in the clear at the time of it having acquired Big Fish Games from U.S. casino and racetrack giant Churchill Downs Inc. The manufacturer’s woes with the lawsuits began when shortly after having purchased the social casino games developer from the racetrack operator, the U.S. Court of Appeals passed a ruling that the games created by Big Fish Games did in fact in the court’s opinion constitute real and illegal online gambling according to the provisions and regulations of Washington State laws.

The ruling had barely been handed down by the court when the lead plaintiff in the first of two major class action lawsuits decided to come forward. Manasa Thimmegowda related to the court that she had lost in excess of $3,000 in the matter of a month buying virtual chips in order to access and keep playing Big Fish Casino games on her smartphone. 

The court eventually ended up ruling in favour of Thimmegowda, stating that Big Fish Games had in its opinion, earned illegal profits from the “tens of thousands” of Big Fish Casino players under the supposed erroneous impression of their having engaged in games that constituted nothing more than casual gaming fun when all the while they had been engaged in illegal online gambling.

Churchill Downs To Pay Too

The second of the two plaintiffs is Cheryl Kater, who had apparently lost at least $1,000 to purchasing virtual chips from Big Fish Games. Both suits sought to recover money lost by players who had engaged with Big Fish Casino, Jackpot Magic Slots and Epic Diamond Slots, all of which were platforms developed Big Fish Games. The plaintiffs in addition to the millions lost by players of the games, also claimed lawyers’ fees along with retributive damages supposedly suffered.

 The total amount claimed by the two class action lawsuits eventually game to $155 million, of which Aristocrat had in the end agreed to pay the sum of $31 million. The balance of the settlement will be paid by previous owner Churchill Downs.

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