Slot machine maker and online games supplier Aristocrat Leisure Ltd is to pay US$31 million as part of a US$155-million class-action settlement centring on two lawsuits in the U.S. state of Washington, after reaching what it termed “an agreement in principle”.
The lawsuits related to the manner of commercial use of certain intellectual property – under the Big Fish Games brand – the Australia-listed group acquired for US$990 million from U.S.-based gaming provider Churchill Downs Inc in January 2018. Churchill Downs will pay the US$124-million balance in the settlement.
Plaintiffs Cheryl Kater, Suzie Kelly and Manasa Thimmegowda claimed the online social gaming platforms “Big Fish Casino”, “Jackpot Magic Slots” and “Epic Diamond Slots”, offered certain products that were actually games of chance, of a type prohibited under Washington state law.
In February 2019, Aristocrat had said in an announcement it would “vigorously defend” a U.S. lawsuit that argued that tokens offered in some of its free social games had a value, making them elements allegedly in games of chance.
In the two lawsuits, the plaintiffs were seeking on behalf of themselves and a nationwide settlement class: return of monies lost; reasonable fees for the work of attorneys; injunctive relief; and treble and punitive damages, among other things, said the Aristocrat group.
The agreement in principle followed mediation involving the Aristocrat group, the Big Fish brand, Churchill Downs and plaintiffs, and “remains subject to approval” by the U.S. Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington, said Monday’s filing to the Australian Securities Exchange by Aristocrat.
The announcement said that all members of the nationwide settlement class “who do not exclude themselves would provide releases of claims relating to the subject matter of the lawsuits”.
Under the deal, the Aristocrat side would also release Churchill Downs from “any and all indemnity obligations arising from or relating to these two class-action lawsuits”.
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