Wisconsin County Settles Augmented Reality Poker Case

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Score one for augmented reality fans in Milwaukee County, Wis.

Playing AR poker at parks in Milwaukee and its suburbs is now unrestricted after the state’s largest county settled claims over a permit law.

Mobile app developer Candy Lab Inc. had sued the county after learning it needed permission to roll out location-based AR games at public parks. Candy Lab’s “Texas Rope ‘Em” game involves players traveling to selected locations to collect digital poker cards, which are superimposed onto an image of the real world on players’ phones.

The county agreed, under a settlement entered Dec. 29, to a judgment that the permit law violates the First Amendment. The county also agreed to pay Candy Lab $83,000 and to permanently stop enforcing the law.

The settlement makes a previous court ruling permanent and serves “as a warning to other municipalities that it is they who need to adapt to changing trends in digital publishing—not vice-versa,” Brian Wassom, counsel for Candy Lab and an attorney at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, told Bloomberg Law.

A federal district court in July 2017 preliminarily blocked enforcement of the county’s permit law. The court said that the law likely restricted constitutionally protected speech because it gave county officials unlimited discretion to grant, deny, or revoke gaming permits.

The law said the county should consider personal safety and protection of plants and animals in deciding permit issuance.

An attorney for Milwaukee County didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.