Amazon Responds To Social Casino Lawsuit
After a lawsuit was announced in November against Amazon for offering users access to social casino apps, the company responded last week arguing that federal law shields Internet platforms from claims brought involving third-party applications.
Amazon attorneys asked a federal judge to freeze plaintiff efforts in Seattle while similar suits involving Google, Apple, and Facebook play out in court. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to review the issue by April or May with a ruling coming by the end of 2024.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars or more in alleged damages could be at stake in the cases,” _Reuter_s reported. “A California federal judge in 2022 said consumers could pursue claims against Google, Apple, and Facebook over their roles in processing payments for in-app transactions.”
Federal Law May Offer Immunity
The original class-action lawsuit against Amazon was filed by Chicago’s Edelson PC law firm on Nov. 10 on behalf of a Nevada man. He alleges that he became addicted to playing online slots via social casinos, many of which were available on the Amazon platform. Attorneys said the company was engaged in a “dangerous partnership” with online casinos.
The firm has filed other similar cases and argues that while social casinos may be advertised as free-to-play games, they are instead an end-run around gaming laws and function as de facto online casinos.
The apps offer free play with virtual currency or tokens, but also allow players to continue playing by purchasing additional tokens. The attorneys in the case have said Amazon is in a “dangerous partnership” with online casinos.
“By moving their casino games directly onto the phones and computers of players, and by leveraging an innocuous-sounding ‘free-to-play’ model, 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 notes.
However, attorneys for Amazon are now pointing to Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act of 1996. The U.S. Department of Justice has noted. that this provision “provides immunity to online platforms from civil liability based on third-party content and for the removal of content in certain circumstances. Congress originally enacted the statute to nurture a nascent industry while also incentivizing online platforms to remove content harmful to children.”
Those in the social casino industry also note that players know that there are no monetary winnings available in the games, making them more akin to traditional mobile video games than casino gaming.