Justia Gaming Law Opinion Summaries

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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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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the appellate division modifying and affirming the judgment of Supreme Court declaring that article 14 of the Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and breeding Law violates the constitutional prohibition on gambling to the extent it authorizes interactive fantasy sport (IFS) contests, holding that Plaintiffs did not meet their burden to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that article 14 is unconstitutional.In 2016, the legislature enacted article 14, which authorizes and regulates IFS contests, upon determining that IFS contests are not unconstitutional gambling activities because they are skill-based competitions in which contestants have some influence over the outcome of the fantasy contests. At issue was whether the legislature properly determined that IFS contests authorized in article 14 are not unconstitutional. The Court of Appeals held that the legislature's conclusion that IFS contests are not "gambling" is consistent with precedent delineating the parameters of that term. View "White v. Cuomo" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that chance predominated over skill in Plaintiffs' new video game and, therefore, this game was a game of chance that violated N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-306.4, which prohibits the operation of sweepstakes conducted through video games of chance.Plaintiffs sued Governor Roy Cooper and certain state law enforcement officials seeking a declaratory judgment that Defendants' operation of a sweepstakes through video game kiosks does not violate N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-306.4, which criminalizes certain video sweepstakes. The trial court held that the sweepstakes game was lawful, but the court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court modified and affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs' new game was a video game of chance prohibited by section 14-306.4. View "Gift Surplus, LLC v. State ex rel. Cooper" on Justia Law

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Debtor, licensed under North Dakota’s pari-mutuel wagering system, filed for bankruptcy in 2004. Ten years later, the district court ruled that the state was not authorized to collect certain taxes from the Debtor. North Dakota agreed to pay the estate $15 million. Creditors asserted claims. Although the state constitution provides that “the entire net proceeds of such games of chance are to be devoted to educational, charitable, patriotic, fraternal, religious, or other public-spirited uses,” North Dakota did not raise the rights of any charities.In 2018, the bankruptcy court ruled on the claims. North Dakota filed a new proof of claim. The court concluded that the state lacked parens patriae authority to assert claims on behalf of charities. The Eighth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP) remanded. On remand, the state attempted to add a breach of contract claim. The bankruptcy court denied that motion and concluded that the contract claim had no merit. The court also rejected a constitutional-statutory claim.The BAP affirmed, rejecting arguments that North Dakota law requires that charities, not Debtor, recover the remaining tax settlement funds and that the court erred when it disallowed the contract claim. The state constitution concerns the legislature and does not govern the actions of private parties such as Debtor. Debtor paid the taxes originally; the reimbursement of those improperly-paid taxes should inure to the benefit of Debtor after distribution under the bankruptcy priority scheme. View "North Dakota v. Bala" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's order dismissing Appellant's complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief, holding that there was no error.Appellant was cited for aiding and abetting two individuals in his boat who were violating Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AG&FC) Regulation N1.03(B)(3)(i)(b), which prohibits using barbed hooks in designated areas, and Regulation 1.00-C. Appellant filed a complaint seeking declaratory judgment that the two regulations are unconstitutional because they are in direct conflict with Ark. Code Ann. 35, 8. The circuit court dismissed the complaint, determining that there was no conflict between the AG&FC regulations and the Arkansas Constitution. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the regulations in question were not unconstitutional. View "Peveto v. State" on Justia Law

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Appellee Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment Inc. (“Greenwood”) operated Parx Casino (“Parx”), located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. During 2014, as part of its efforts to encourage slot machine and table game play, Greenwood distributed to patrons of Parx who played its slot machines and table games various “promotions, giveaways and direct player development:” items given away included cash, department store gift cards, and items of personal property. Parx also gave away tickets to attend live concerts and entertainment performances. In 2016, Greenwood filed a petition for refund with the Board of Appeals of the Department of Revenue (“Board of Appeals”) for the calendar year 2014, contending that it was entitled under Section 1103 of the Pennsylvania Gaming Act to exclude from the taxable revenue attributable to its table games and slot machines the value of all cash and personal property it distributed to the players of those games. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded that concert tickets were not services within the meaning of Section 1103, and so were excludible from these taxable revenues. View "Greenwood Gaming v. Pennsylvania" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, two American Indian tribes, business entities affiliated with the tribes, and individual tribe members, sued a number of non-tribal cardrooms alleging they were offering banked card games on non-tribal land, in violation of the exclusive right of Indian tribes to offer such games. Based on those allegations, plaintiffs asserted claims for public nuisance, unfair competition, declaratory and injunctive relief, and tortious interference with a contractual relationship and prospective economic advantage. The defendants demurred and, after two rounds of amendments to the complaint, the trial court sustained the third and final demurrer without leave to amend and entered judgment of dismissal. The court ruled that, as governmental entities, the Indian tribes and their affiliated business entities were not “persons” with standing to sue under the unfair competition law (UCL), and were not “private person[s]” with standing under the public nuisance statutes. The court further ruled the business entities and the individual tribe members failed to plead sufficient injury to themselves to establish standing to sue under the UCL or the public nuisance statutes. Although plaintiffs broadly framed the issue on appeal as whether they, as American Indians, had standing to redress their grievances in California state courts, the Court of Appeal determined it was much narrower: whether the complaint in this case adequately plead the asserted claims and contained allegations sufficient to establish the threshold issue of whether any of the named plaintiffs had standing to bring those claims. The Court agreed with the trial court’s conclusion that the complaint did not do so and, therefore, affirmed judgment in favor of the defendants. View "Rincon Band of Luiseno Mission Indians etc. v. Flynt" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's order finding that both Rule 2.13(b)(5) of the Casino Gaming Rules and Ark. Code Ann. 27-117-101(b) are unconstitutional, holding that the circuit court erred.In 2019, the Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) adopted Rule 2.13(5)(b) (the Rule) of the ARC-Casino Gaming Rules, which provides that letters of support must be from the county judge, quorum court, or mayor holding office at the time of the submission of an application for a casino license. The General Assembly subsequently passed Act 371 of 2019 (the Act), which was identical to Rule 2.13(5)(b) and is codified at Ark. Code Ann. 23-117-101. Appellant applied for a casino license in May 2019, but the application was denied. Appellant filed the underling litigation challenging the denial of a license and the constitutionality of the Act. The circuit court declared that Rule and the Act were unconstitutional because they imposed an additional qualification to Arkansas Constitutional Amendment 100. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Rule is consistent with Amendment 100 and does not impose an additional requirement; and (2) the Act is consistent with Amendment 100 and does not impose an additional requirement. View "Cherokee Nation Businesses, LLC v. Gulfside Casino Partnership" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court reversing decision the judgment of trial court and directing summary judgment for the Town of Ledyard, holding that the ambit of Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-161a includes a directly related federal action that is determinative of a municipality's authority to pursue the underlying state collection proceeding.The Town brought a complaint to collect unpaid taxes for gaming equipment leased by WMS Gaming, Inc. to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, for its gaming operations. The Tribal Nation responded by filing a second action in the federal court challenging the Town's authority to impose the taxes. The parties eventually executed a stipulation and motions for summary judgment as to liability only with respect to the federal action attorney's fees. The trial court concluded that the Town was liable for the federal action attorney fees pursuant to section 12-161a. The appellate court reversed, construing section 12-161a to conclude that the Town's liability for attorney's fees under the statute was limited to the collection proceeding in state court and did not include the related federal court proceeding. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that WMS Gaming was entitled to reasonable attorney's fees within the meaning of section 12-161a. View "Ledyard v. WMS Gaming, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Nation and some of its officials filed suit against the Village of Union Springs and certain of its officials, seeking a declaratory judgment that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) preempts the Village's ordinance regulating gambling as applied to the Nation's operation of a bingo parlor on a parcel of land located within both the Village and the Nation's federal reservation, and for corresponding injunctive relief.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Nation, agreeing with the district court that neither issue nor claim preclusion bars this suit and that IGRA preempts contrary Village law because the parcel of land at issue sits on "Indian lands" within the meaning of that Act. View "Cayuga Nation v. Tanner" on Justia Law