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Video Game Gambling Legislation Proposed to Clarify Washington State Laws

January 27, 2020

By: Robert N. Adams

 
 

A piece of video game gambling legislation has been put forth by lawmakers in Washington State aiming to provide an exception for certain virtual experiences.

As GamesIndustry.biz reports, this piece of legislation would add a single sentence to the state's existing gambling law:

 

"For purposes of this section, 'illegal gambling games' does not include online games of chance when played solely for entertainment purposes with virtual items if such virtual items may be used only for gameplay and may not be, per the terms of service of the game, transferred, exchanged, or redeemed for money or property."

Notably, Washington State is home to a number of video game companies, including Valve, Microsoft, Nintendo, and countless smaller developers of PC, console, and mobile games. In fact, that's the exact reason why this change to the law has bipartisan support in the state.

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Why Was This Video Game Gambling Legislation Proposed?

The law doesn't specify any companies, but the motivation behind its creation appears pretty straightforward. Big Fish Games and Double Down Interactive both run "social casinos" and operate in the state, and both companies have been named in class-action complaints which allege that their virtual currency is a "thing of value".

While social casinos might bring to mind other similar operations, neither of these sites allow you to cash out your virtual chips for real money. Instead, you can (at most) use your winnings for more plays in these digital casinos. Money might go in, but it can never come out.

 
 

However, that exact functionality is the basis for these lawsuits. Even though you can't earn any money through them, the class-action complaints allege that the ability to play more games has value since you would otherwise have to pay money to continue playing.

The lawsuits are sure to continue, but for now, it looks like the video game gambling legislation may very well pass. Only time will tell how it affects the legal landscape in the state when it comes to video games and gambling.

What do you think of this proposed video game gambling legislation? Do you think this is a good law? Let us know in the comments below!