Justia Washington Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Gaming Law
ZDI Gaming, Inc. distributes certain gaming machines that allow players to play what amounts to "slot machines" using "cash cards" to place their bets. The version of the machine that gave rise to this case allows the machine to credit-back a player's winnings onto the card. The State Gambling Commission ultimately denied further distribution of the machines, finding that the machines "extended credit and allowed gambling without prepayment by 'cash, check or electronic point-of-sale bank transfer'" violating then-operative regulations. ZDI appealed the Gambling Commission's ruling to the Pierce County superior court; the State responded that it believed RCW 9.46.095 granted exclusive jurisdiction of the matter to the Thurston County superior court, and suggested that ZDI withdraw its petition from Pierce and refile at Thurston County. ZDI declined and the State moved to dismiss. Noting that sometimes "when the Legislature uses the word 'jurisdiction,' it really mean[s] 'venue,'" [the Pierce County court] denied the State’s motion to dismiss, but transferred the case to the Thurston County superior court. The Thurston County court reversed the Gambling Commission, finding that the cash cards were the equivalent to both cash and merchandise and therefore lawful under state law. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Pierce County had subject matter jurisdiction over the appeal, and that substantial evidence did not support the Gambling Commission's determination that the cards did not meet the statutory definition of "cash." The court then remanded the case to Thurston County. The Supreme Court surmised that "this case was filed in a county other than where it was to be adjudicated," and asked whether "as a consequence, the case [would] not be heard." Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that "the proper forum was a question of venue and not subject matter jurisdiction of the superior courts," but otherwise affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals. View "ZDI Gaming, Inc. v. Wash. State Gambling Comm'n" on Justia Law