Legal Battle Ends: High 5 Games Apps Ruled Illegal in Washington

Summary Statements:

After a protracted legal case, two mobile apps offered by High 5 Games have been ruled illegal in Washington.

Western Washington District Court Judge Tiffany Cartwright found that High 5 Casino and High 5 Vegas constitute online gambling, which is illegal in the state.

Washington classifies online gambling as anything that requires users to stake value on the outcome of a game of chance or an event with a prize on offer for a certain outcome.

Many gaming operators, even social ones, avoid operating in Washington.

High 5 contended that it operates with virtual coins and is a “social casino.”

High 5’s games emulate video slot machines used for gambling in physical casinos.

Cartwright determined High 5 games are prohibited under the Washington Consumer Protection Act and the Recovery of Money Lost at Gambling Act.

The verdict comes six years after High 5 Games player Rick Larsen first filed the suit.

The apps promoted illegal gambling by requiring players to purchase additional chips using real money.

High 5’s rebuttal was that players can use free coins given upon registration and periodically awarded.

Users cannot play with regularity unless they are willing to pay.

Washington law recognizes virtual currency as a “thing of value” even if it cannot be redeemed for cash.

High 5 Games says it has made efforts to cease operating in Washington.

Cartwright ruled the company is liable to pay damages to Larsen and other plaintiffs.

The amount of damages will be determined by a jury.

SBC Americas has not yet received a response from High 5 Games on the verdict.

A separate case involving High 5 Games, Wilson vs. PTT, LLC, is still active but has not made progress since early 2023.

Judge Robert Lasnik ruled that online gaming companies DoubleDown Interactive and IGT also violated Washington state gambling law.

The games offered by these companies are free to play but users can pay for additional chips.

Consumers bet to acquire more chips, which they otherwise would need to buy.


“The undisputed material facts as to liability show that High 5’s games violate Washington’s gambling laws and the Consumer Protection Act.”