As we have previously reported, as loot boxes have become increasingly popular in high-profile video games, they have come under greater legal scrutiny. Several jurisdictions have indicated they are not illegal gambling, but other jurisdictions have found some implementations to be illegal gambling. Even in the jurisdictions where loot boxes are not deemed gambling, regulators have raised concerns about whether loot boxes raise other issues. One alleged concern is the potential impact on children and the potentially addictive nature of loot boxes, though little, if any, hard evidence to date supports this. Continue Reading
It didn’t take long. The New Hampshire Lottery has sued the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prevent enforcement of the DOJ’s opinion (issued last month) reinterpreting the Wire Act. As we reported last month, the DOJ reversed the position it took in 2011 that the entirety of the Wire Act is limited to sports betting. It newly concludes that only one of four parts of the Wire Act apply to sports betting, while the other three apply to any online betting. Continue Reading
Most video game patents that are asserted in litigation are also challenged at the PTAB through IPR or PGR petitions. Patent Owners looking for new ways attack such challenges have turned to the failure to disclose real-parties-in-interest (“RPI”). Under 35 U.S.C. § 312(a)(2), “[a] petition . . . may be considered only if . . . the petition identifies all real parties in interest[.]” Additionally, under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b), “[a]n inter partes review may not be instituted if the petition requesting the proceeding is filed more than 1 year after the date on which the petitioner, real party in interest, or privy of the petitioner is served with a complaint alleging infringement of the patent.” These requirements can pose unique questions for video game companies based on their relationships and business process. Continue Reading
The recently released Department of Justice (“DOJ”) opinion (“DOJ Opinion”) concluding that the Wire Act prohibits both sports and non-sports related Internet betting and wagering, leaves the industry with the burning question of “what about intrastate Internet gambling?” On its face, the Wire Act prohibits using a wire communication facility for the transmission in “interstate or foreign commerce” of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of such wagers, for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers. In its analysis the DOJ Opinion applies the modifier of interstate or foreign commerce to all four prohibited types of transmissions. Continue Reading
Department of Justice attorneys should adhere to the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) interpretation, which represents the Department’s position on the meaning of the Wire Act. See 28 C.F.R. § 0.25. Continue Reading
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued an opinion (DOJ Opinion) that reverses its 2011 Memo, in which it opined that the prohibitions of the Wire Act are limited to sports betting. In the DOJ Opinion, the DOJ has concluded that the 2011 opinion was wrong! It now opines that only one of four parts of the Wire Act apply to sports betting, while the other three apply to any online betting. It also concludes that the 2006 enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) did not alter the scope of the Wire Act.
Video game patents being asserted in litigation are frequently challenged by defendants at the Patent Trial and Appeals Board by filing a petition requesting inter partes review (IPR), post-grant review (PGR), or (less frequently) covered business method review (CBM). Gaming companies need to be cautious in preparing these petitions as the PTAB continues to increase its scrutiny of petitions and is showing a reluctance to “fill in the dots” for deficient petitions. Continue Reading
Blockchain is a revolutionary technology that has great potential to solve many of the fundamental challenges facing the music industry today. Blockchain technology including distributed, decentralized ledgers, smart contracts, and the ability to tokenize digital assets, is uniquely suited to address issues such as rights management, licensing, copyright ownership, royalty tracking and reporting and the primary and secondary ticketing markets for live events. Various aspects of the technology are currently being used to address some of these problems. Despite these current uses, blockchain adoption likely will be incremental and more evolutionary than revolutionary, at first. Longer term, blockchain technology could provide a more comprehensive solution for the industry.
How the Evolution of Games Has Led to a Rise in Gambling Concerns
Recently, there has been a frenzy of legal activity with U.S. gambling laws and the number of gambling-related legal issues with video games. U.S. gambling laws have changed more in the past few years than they have in a long time. Significant state law changes have occurred concerning online gambling, sports betting, fantasy sports, and skilled-based games, to name a few. Some significant recent changes under federal gambling law have also occurred. The evolution of certain aspects of games by the game industry—particularly those involving loot boxes, casino-style games, and chance-based mechanics with virtual items—has raised the perception of certain gambling-related issues. Despite being prohibited by game publishers, players’ engagement in unauthorized activities (e.g., selling virtual items on secondary markets and “skin gambling”) have exacerbated these issues. The financial success of these monetization techniques has led to greater legal scrutiny. The rise of eSports has also implicated sport betting issues. Continue Reading
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has indicated that nearly all initial coin offering (“ICO”) filings they have seen are securities offerings. Based on this expansive view, it may be more likely to find a Unicorn than an ICO that is not a securities offering. Ironically, a recent lawsuit was filed against Unikrn, a block-chain based betting platform, primarily focused on esports betting. Continue Reading