Nevada resident Steven Horn is suing Amazon for profiting from social casino games that he believes should be illegal. The class-action lawsuit states that Amazon.com earned billions of dollars through an “illegal internet gambling enterprise.”
The complaint cites a 2018 US appeals court ruling that found social casino applications are an illegal form of betting under Washington state gambling law.
The plaintiff said he was addicted to online slots and accused Amazon of offering more than 30 Vegas-style social casino apps and processing payments for virtual chips in exchange for real money.
Chicago law firm Edelson represents the plaintiff in this case. The firm has secured millions of dollars in similar lawsuits and class-action settlements over social casino apps.
The lawsuit is the latest case in Washington federal court that affects online slots and other games.
Amazon as the center for distribution and payment
Horn also emphasized in the lawsuit that social casinos are “extraordinarily profitable” and “highly addictive.”
As the Amazon class action complaint further cites:
“Their business of targeting, retaining, and collecting losses from addicted gamblers is inextricably entwined with Amazon. Not only does Amazon retain full control over allowing social casinos into its store, and their distribution and promotion therein, but it also shares directly in a substantial portion of the gamblers’ losses, which are collected and controlled by Amazon.”
In exchange for delivering casino games, providing player data and insight, and collecting money from consumers, Amazon takes a 30% commission on every bet, earning billions of dollars in revenue.
“Despite knowing that social casinos are illegal, Amazon continues to maintain a 30% financial interest in the upside by brokering the slot machine games, driving customers to them, and acting as the bank,” the lawsuit says.”As such, Amazon is liable as a co-conspirator to an illegal gambling enterprise and conspiracy.”
Social casinos described as lucrative and addictive
Social casinos have become a widespread form of online entertainment, as they combine the thrill of playing a game while socially interacting with other participants. These platforms run on a virtual currency system, utilizing virtual credits, chips or tokens.
Players can acquire them for real money through in-app purchases. The lawsuit notes:
“Social casino companies, along with Defendant Amazon, have found a way to smuggle slot machines into the homes of consumers throughout the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.”
The lawsuit further explains that, since unregulated, social casino operations do not need to follow the same rules as legal land-based or online casinos. It says social casino applications do not randomize their results.
Instead, “these tailor “wins” and “losses” in such a way as to maximize addiction (and, in turn, revenues).” Players can never actually win money, the lawsuit says, as players’ financial losses are “maximized by deceptive gameplay tweaks that would never be allowed in a physical slot machine.”
Through this case, the plaintiff seeks to force Amazon to stop participating in social casino games. It also urges Amazon to return to consumers the money it has “illegally profited from.”
There are 34 social casino brands named in the lawsuit. The list includes:
- Jackpot Party Casino
- Big Fish Casino
- MONOPOLY Slots – Casino Games
- Lotsa Slots
- Vegas Friends Casino
- Jackpot Master
- Quick Hit Slots
- Black Diamond Casino