Could Apple Be Sued for Offering Social Casino Apps on the App Store?

In an unprecedented turn of facts, cases are being presented to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals against three of the biggest companies in the world, for providing access to free slot games and social casinos.

The US District Court, Northern District of California Judge Edward J. Davila, issued this ruling to be discussed in court within a week, even though two of the three claims were already dismissed because there was ambiguity in those provisions.

The cases involve some big-time names in the social markets such as Google, Apple, and Meta, which could lead to some serious implications in the future, especially against the social casino app developers and their ability to monetize their products. Such social casino apps like the ones created by Zynga or SciPlay are not to be mistaken with the mobile casinos over here that accept real money bets in USD, AUD, or CAD for casino games. Such real money casinos are generally not accepted on the App Store unless they are regulated locally in the jurisdiction where a gambler might want to download them.

All companies have a clear case to present, whether their platforms could be entitled to immunity for having those unlawful social casino apps but not against processing and receiving payments from customers all around.

What are the implications?

It has become more and more clear in the last year that those complaints are directly attributed to the actions made by Apple, Meta, and Google, but not directly to the companies that created those free slots, bingo, and other card games.

This issue began last year, when Donald Nelson and Cheree Bibbs sued Apple in the same court, claiming that they each spent more than 15 thousand dollars on the App Store while downloading casino-style games on their devices.

That’s where the issue is, even though the real money isn’t directly prompted into your account, the bettors are lured to make in-play purchases to unlock different and more advanced plays, something that those platforms cut off the purchases.

Implications could be real and affected by the new ruling, but the companies that will really feel this hard stance are the ones who develop the apps, game manufacturers, and other companies that are publicly traded daily.

To become clearer how this niche is becoming stronger every year, free slots and casino apps have been benefiting from almost 6 billion dollars in 2020, numbers that certainly increased in the last two years during the pandemic and the huge boom mobile gambling had been part of.

One of the many allegations emphasized in Judge’s Davila speech it’s pretty clear, that the regulation is not updated to the current market in what Davila describes as:

“The data-driven targeting of consumers by big social-media platforms can hardly be compared to the Internet of 1996. Platforms like Facebook, Google, and Apple are more than mere message boards, they are creators of content themselves, and they should be treated as such.”

Apple, Google, and Meta are using their own data and algorithms to target players for the free slots and social casino games presented on their app stores but not for the real payment process, which is something the victims claim.

Curiously, victims’ intimations are directed to those three companies and not to those free slots and casino games, claiming their “own bad acts” in various ways that concern local regulations such as employment and taxes.

Future of Social Casinos?

Even though these lawsuits have been publicly emphasized during the last couple of years, the truth is that companies like Meta have already created special “task forces” to see the potential downsides of the products they offer on their platforms.

Social casinos will always have a place in the industry, but responsible gaming is something that can only be “preached” by the companies who offer those activities, while the regulation services should be the ones taking care of matters.

One of the main focuses could be to extend changes on the permits for iGaming, which some US states like California already have, but those would not stop people from becoming addicted and making undisclosed purchases.

Like everything in the digital market, there are some considerations to make for the better development of the products, and companies like the ones mentioned in these lawsuits will certainly make a statement about it.

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