Suit says app stores promote gambling

November 23, 2020

Two federal lawsuits filed Oct. 21 against Apple and Google seek refunds for Alabamians who downloaded gambling apps that plaintiffs say are illegal under Alabama law.

The cases were filed in Alabama’s Northern District Federal Court and seek refunds for two Alabama purchasers, in addition to “a reasonable sum of money” for bringing the cases to court.

The suits — which have the potential for class action — were brought against Apple and Google by two Shelby County residents.

The residents purchased game apps and paid money for additional playing time.

The suits target games that initially offer free “coins” to play slots, blackjack, roulette, poker, keno, bingo and other games.

A loss decreases the number of coins, while a win increases the coin total.

When players run out of “coins,” they use real money to buy more coins to keep playing.

One plaintiff spent $165 in more than a year to play Slotomania; the other spent $250 in six months to play Jackpot Party and Goldfish Casino Slots. The suits contend that paying to win more playing time constitutes gambling under Alabama statutes.

The suits list 200 games available in Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store that have this gambling feature.

The Alabama cases are somewhat unique in that they target the platform providers — Google and Apple — which receive a 30% cut of revenues from the games.

The suits further contend that Apple and Google have the ability to restrict such games to states where gambling is legal. (Compiled from news reports)

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