Washington state has had an ongoing debate for years on social gaming. The question arises as to what exactly constitutes gambling. Are virtual chips included?
Big Gish Games is anxiously awaiting the outcome. Decisions are pending; two bills have been introduced in the legislative chambers. both essentially the same: social gaming would be exempt from state gambling laws as long as players do not cash out for real money.
Illegal gambling games does not include online games of chance when played solely for entertainment purposes with virtual items. Such virtual items may be used only for gameplay and may not be transferred, exchanged, or redeemed for money or property.
It all goes back to 2015 when Big Fish was sued by a gamer who felt the company violated gambling laws. Real money could be used to buy virtual cash; in fact it was the only way to continue to play if the virtual cash ran out.
More lawsuits ensued, not only against Big Fish but also Playtika, High 5 Games and more. Some companies simply left the state.
The new bills will help resolve the issue, but they will also likely impact the game companies adversely. Video game development in Washington will decline.
In addition, Washington-based companies may move their base of operations to other states, taking away thousands of jobs and a significant, amount of tax dollars.
It is the intent of the legislature to remove this economic uncertainty.