Justia Gaming Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Internet Law
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Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (Blizzard) appealed an order denying its motion to compel arbitration. B.D., a minor, played Blizzard’s online videogame “Overwatch,” and used “real money” to make in-game purchases of “Loot Boxes” - items that offer “randomized chances . . . to obtain desirable or helpful ‘loot’ in the game.” B.D. and his father (together, Plaintiffs) sued Blizzard, alleging the sale of loot boxes with randomized values constituted unlawful gambling, and, thus, violated the California Unfair Competition Law (UCL). Plaintiffs sought only prospective injunctive relief, plus attorney fees and costs. Blizzard moved to compel arbitration based on the dispute resolution policy incorporated into various iterations of the online license agreement that Blizzard presented to users when they signed up for, downloaded, and used Blizzard’s service. The trial court denied the motion, finding a “reasonably prudent user would not have inquiry notice of the agreement” to arbitrate because “there was no conspicuous notice of an arbitration” provision in any of the license agreements. The Court of Appeal disagreed: the operative version of Blizzard’s license agreement was presented to users in an online pop-up window that contained the entire agreement within a scrollable text box. View "B.D. v. Blizzard Entertainment" on Justia Law

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FanDuel and DraftKings conduct online fantasy‐sports games. Participants pay an entry fee and select a roster, subject to a budget cap that prevents every entrant from picking only the best players. Results from real sports contests determine how each squad earns points to win cash. Former college football players whose names, pictures, and statistics have been used without their permission sued, claiming that Indiana’s right-of-publicity statute, Code 32‐36‐1‐8, gives them control over the commercial use of their names and data. The district court dismissed the complaint, relying on exemptions for the use of a personality’s name, voice, signature, photograph, image, likeness, distinctive appearance, gestures, or mannerisms "in" material “that has political or newsworthy value” or “in connection with the broadcast or reporting of an event or a topic of general or public interest." The Seventh Circuit certified the question to the Supreme Court of Indiana: Whether online fantasy‐sports operators that condition entry on payment, and distribute cash prizes, need the consent of players whose names, pictures, and statistics are used in the contests, in advertising the contests, or both. Plaintiffs’ details on the websites are not necessarily “in” newsworthy “material” or a form of “reporting” and there is no state law precedent interpreting a statute similar to Indiana’s. The Supreme Court of Indiana may consider not only the statutory text but also plaintiffs’ arguments about the legality of defendants’ fantasy games and the possibility of an extra-textual illegal‐activity exception. View "Daniels v. Fanduel, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, individually and purportedly on behalf of others similarly situated, filed suit against GameStop for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, money had and received, and violation of Minnesota’s Consumer Fraud Act (CFA), Minn. Stat. 325F.68, et seq. Plaintiff alleged that GameStop's disclosure of personally identifiable information (PII) to a third party (Facebook) violated an express agreement not to do so. The district court granted GameStop's motion to dismiss based on plaintiff's lack of standing. The court concluded that plaintiff provided sufficient facts alleging that he is party to a binding contract with GameStop, and GameStop does not dispute this contractual relationship; GameStop has violated that policy; and plaintiff has suffered damages as a result of GameStop's breach. The court also concluded that plaintiff has standing to bring his breach-of-contract claim and to bring his other claims. The court concluded, however, that the privacy policy unambiguously does not include those pieces of information among the protected PII. Therefore, the protection plaintiff argues GameStop failed to provide was not among the protections for which he bargained by agreeing to the terms of service, and GameStop thus could not have breached its contract with plaintiff. Plaintiff's Minnesota CFA claims fail for similar reasons. Finally, plaintiff has not alleged a claim for unjust enrichment or the related claim of money had and received. View "Carlsen v. GameStop, Inc." on Justia Law

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Two mothers and their sons alleged that Internet gambling websites owe them the money that the men lost in gambling. An Illinois statute imposes criminal penalties on anyone who “knowingly establishes, maintains, or operates an Internet site that permits a person to play a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value by means of the Internet or to make a wager upon the result of any [such] game,” 720 ILCS 5/28-1(a)(12) and “any person who knowingly permits any premises or property owned or occupied by him or under his control to be used as a gambling place.” It provides that “any person who by gambling shall lose to any other person, any sum of money or thing of value, amounting to the sum of $50 or more ... may sue for and recover ... in a civil action against the winner thereof.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal. The sons, who used the websites, failed to sue within six months of their losses. The government shut down the sites in 2011. The mothers, who never gambled on the sites, have timely claims, but the defendants are not the winners of any game that their sons played, but are the sites that hosted the gambling. View "Fahrner v. Tiltware, LLC" on Justia Law

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American Century, a mutual fund, offers investment portfolios, including Ultra Fund. Ultra Fund invested in PartyGaming, a Gibraltar company that facilitated internet gambling. In 2005, PartyGaming made an initial public offering of its stock, which was listed on the London Stock Exchange. In its prospectus, PartyGaming noted that the legality of online gaming was uncertain in several countries, including the U.S.; 87 percent of its revenue came from U.S. customers. PartyGaming acknowledged that “action by US authorities … prohibiting or restricting PartyGaming from offering online gaming in the US . . . could result in investors losing all or a very substantial part of their investment.” Ultra Fund purchased shares in PartyGaming totaling over $81 million. In 2006, following increased government enforcement against illegal internet gambling, the stock price dropped. Ultra Fund divested itself of PartyGaming, losing $16 million. Seidl, a shareholder, claimed negligence, waste, and breach of fiduciary duty against American Century. The company refused her demand to bring an action. Seidl brought a shareholder’s derivative action. The Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants, concluding that Seidl could not bring suit where the company had declined to do so in a valid exercise of business judgment. The litigation committee adopted a reasonable methodology in conducting its investigation and reaching its conclusion. View "Seidl v. Am. Century Co., Inc" on Justia Law