A class action case has been filed against Apple in the United States, alleging that the tech giant is violating twenty-five states’ anti-gambling rules.
Plaintiffs Joshua McDonald and Michael Helsel filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, alleging that the company has profited from illicit poker games produced by DoubleU Games Co.
The plaintiffs are claiming civil penalties and fees, as well as an order that prevents Apple from participating in the allegedly criminal actions. A jury trial is also being sought.
The lawsuit claims that by acting as an unlicensed casino, Apple allows and encourages illicit gaming, alleging the use of in-game currency as a significant contributing factor.
Consumers are offered free ‘coins’ or ‘chips’ to begin when they download and open the DoubleU Casino Apps, which, when depleted, triggers the ‘use of real money to purchase additional coins or chips for the chance to continue playing the game.’
It adds: “consumers do not have the ability to collect actual cash as a result of ‘winning’ games, but they do have the ability to win and therefore acquire more playing time.”
Anti-gambling law violation
As a result, it is argued that ‘paying money in a game for a chance to win more playing time violates the antigambling laws of the twenty-five states at issue in this case.’
Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia are the states in question.
McDonald is said to have made a $4.99 coin buy, while Helsel claims to have made five different coin sales totaling $107.99. Both are attempting to recoup money that has been paid and lost as a result of gaming on the DoubleU Casino App.
F2P similar to gambling
According to the lawsuit, free-to-play ‘casino gamers share many similar sociodemographic characteristics (e.g., employment, education, income) with online gamblers,’ and that ‘the purchase of virtual credits or virtual items makes the activity of [free-to-play] casino gaming more similar to gambling.’
In addition to charging that persons in the United States spent nearly $3.5 billion in 2019 when playing free-to-play games, the filing claims that: “Since Apple is responsible, in part, for the creation or development of the DoubleU Casino Apps and provides the sole means by which DoubleU Casino Apps developers can offer distribute, and sell their DoubleU Casino Apps to Apple consumers (i.e., through the App Store), Apple functions as an information content provider for the subject DoubleU Casino Apps. Accordingly, Apple actively enables, permits, promotes, and profits from illegal gambling.”