Big Fish Games Class Action Suit: Used Illegal Gambling Practices

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:
Feb/19/2019

Their commercials were everywhere and now the Big Fish Casino is paying the price for success.


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A class action suit has been filed against the Seattle-based game maker.  The plaintiff is one Manasa Thimmegowda of Florida.

The complaint, filed Feb. 11 U.S. District Court in Western Washington, claims Big Fish Games, Inc. used similar "deceptive" practices to the casinos in order to "reap huge profits" while never paying out anything of monetary value.

From KomoNews:

The games start players off with a free, finite set of virtual chips they can use for slot machine and other casino-style games, the complaint said. After the chips run out, players can't play anymore unless they buy chips through in-app offers or micro-transactions that start at 99 cents but can run up to hundreds or thousands of dollars.

In "social casino" games like the ones made by Big Fish Games, there's no way to accumulate more chips unless you win them by wagering chips you already have, or by buying more, the lawsuit said. This is unlike other mobile games that give players the option of a paywall or to wait a certain amount of time to play after losing lives or credits.

The complaint alleges that developers "have begun exploiting the same psychological triggers as casino operators."

While a good chunk of those playing at Big Fish do so for free, they still rely on "whales", who make up a minuscule portion of the total players, but together can provide almost half of the revenue for the games.

The complaint claims "Big Fish Casino" brings in an annual revenue of over $100 million, and all of their casino games combined bring in revenues of over $200 million".

The company was previously owned by Churchill Downs:

When Big Fish Games was owned by Churchill Downs Inc., the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the company's practices constituted illegal gambling under Washington state law.

"As we allege in our complaint, the mobile gambling industry, by design, preys on consumers by bringing additive gambling opportunities directly into their homes," Christopher Dore, an attorney representing the plaintiff said in an email. "We look forward to proving that companies are aware that many of their customers fall victim to these gambling games, with significant negative impacts on their lives financially and otherwise."

Big Fish Games have not yet have not yet submitted a reply in the case.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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