Following years of litigation, a U.S. judge on Thursday approved a $415 million class-action settlement against DoubleDown Interactive LLC and International Game Technology PLC (IGT.N). The settlement resolves claims that the “social casino” and the online gaming company violated consumer protection provisions and Washington state gambling law where personal gambling online is a felony.
U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle federal court called the resolution “fair, reasonable, and adequate,” in his ruling that was the final approval order and ended almost half a decade of litigant action.
Conclusion of Nearly Half a Decade of Litigation
The case arose in 2018 about one year after Aristocrat Liesure’s Big Fish Games another social gaming site with chip purchases but also a black market trading space for the “chips of no value” was found to be offering illegal casino games in the state of Washington by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Kater V. Churchill Downs – the panel was assembled to hear an appeal related to the Seattle courts’ finding that the games were not illegal under state.
In the most recent case, online consumers alleged the “social casino” games developed by the defendants “constitute unlawful gambling under Washington’s gambling laws.” The settlement was the latest in a series of related cases.
The specific arm of world gambling behemoth IGT, International Game Technology PLC, is based in the U.K., and DoubleDown have denied any liability. They argued that the plaintiffs’ claims “rest on novel and untested interpretations of Washington’s gambling laws.”
The games start out free to play with a certain number of free chips granted, but players must purchase additional chips or wait a period of time for additional chips to be awarded.
The suit was brought on behalf of tens of thousands of class members who “purchased and lost chips” by wagering at DoubleDown Casino, the plaintiffs’ lawyers alleged. Attorneys argued users were entitled to recover their losses under a Washington state law.
About half a dozen class members opted out of the settlement, but there were no formal objections to the deal and there was no clear indication that those former class members intended to pursue individual cases against the firms.
Lawyers have recovered over $600m for Plaintiffs
Edelson counsel, Todd Logan, speaking on behalf of the plaintiffs said on Friday that the firm’s social-casino litigation has produced or recovered over $650 million for clients and class members to date.
“Many class members stand to receive, individually, hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Logan
Chicago-based Edelson was awarded over $120 million in the case.
Judge Lasnik’s fee award amounted to nearly 30% of the total award, outstripping the state’s and 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal’s benchmark 25% top fee award for such cases.
Lasnik said the litigation was “risky, novel, and hard-fought,” in his award order, and so he approved a request for fees that went beyond a 25% benchmark.
The case is Benson et al v. DoubleDown Interactive LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, No. 2:18-cv-00525-RSL.
Source: US court approves ‘social casino’ $415 million class settlement, Reuters, June 2, 2023
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