32Red Online Casino Sues William Hill
August 10, 2009
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32Red Online Casino is a Microgaming casino of long standing. It has won the Best Online Casino Award from Casinomeister every year since 2003. The casino has been named after the roulette number 32 Red. 32Red Online Casino has taken on William Hill Online claiming that the latter’s 32 Vegas online casino infringes on its name.
The allegation is that the name 32Vegas is so similar to 32Red that players open accounts with 32Vegas thinking that they are dealing with 32Red. Ed Ware, CEO of 32Red said, “We have evidence of players who are genuinely confused about what is what.” The more critical allegation is that 32Vegas had in their homepage a cut-and-paste from 32Red’s website that advertised 32Red’s Gibraltar license number 00019. Further 32Red have claimed that they have a trademark on the number ‘32’ as far as gambling is involved.
Ware said, “William Hill have been benefiting from this while we have been losing out. It is a big organization trading on our name and reputation and we will look to recover appropriate damages and compensation.” The dispute is scheduled to be taken to the High Court in London later this month. The amount of the claim would depend on the actual profit numbers of 32Vegas that are produced in court. Ware estimated that the revenues of 32Vegas are between £15 million and £20 million at a gross margin of 31%. According to him the claim would be upward of £4 million.
What gives credence to 32Red’s claim is the fact that William Hill immediately shut down 32Vegas online casino and replaced it with 21Nova. All the players with account balances were transferred to 21Nova. Maybe this was abundant caution because William Hill would not want the claim to keep piling up. Maybe this signifies that William Hill’s intent was never to muscle in on 32Red’s domain. Also of note is that William Hill spokespersons are not offering any comment on the issue.
There is one fact that may go slightly against 32Red Online Casino. 32Vegas is not an online casino that has been launched by William Hill. It has been in existence for at least three years. During this period 32Red raised no objection whatsoever. William Hill acquired 32Vegas as a part of the assets that were transferred to it in their deal with Playtech late in 2008. It was only when 32Vegas was backed by the William Hill brand equity that it began to hurt 32Red Online Casino.
The online player fraternity seems divided over the issue. Both 32Red and William Hill have their share of supporters among those who have responded to the news item in E-Gaming Review. Supporters of William Hill say that 32Red is engaging in opportunism because now 32Vegas is owned by a big name. They claim that William Hill is much bigger and players must have registered at 32Red thinking they were dealing with William Hill. Supporters of 32Red want William Hill to be taught a lesson.
There are two Playtech powered online casinos owned by Red Vegas with names 32Grand and 32Royal. 32Red is looking at initiating action against these casinos as well.