Amazon is being sued in a proposed class-action lawsuit for allowing the sale of free-to-play social casino apps. The plaintiff, Steve Horn, accuses the tech giant of conspiring with social gaming apps to exploit users who become addicted to the interactive slots. The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Washington, seeks damages and restitution for players’ losses, as well as attorneys’ fees and expenses. It alleges that Amazon is profiting from an “illegal internet gambling enterprise” by receiving commissions from the apps.
According to the lawsuit, social gaming apps like Slotomania and DoubleDown Vegas Slots are free to download and play initially, but often allow players to purchase additional gameplay tokens after they have used up their initial allotment of gaming credits. The money spent on these purchases cannot be withdrawn, and players cannot win real money. The lawsuit claims that Amazon is maintaining a 30% financial interest in the profits generated by these apps, making the company liable as a co-conspirator to an illegal gambling enterprise and conspiracy.
Horn, the plaintiff, asserts that Amazon should not allow such apps in its online store, stating that their business of targeting and collecting losses from addicted gamblers is inextricably linked with Amazon. He claims to have spent several hours a day playing various social gaming apps, spending large amounts of money to continue his gameplay. The lawsuit highlights over 320 digital transactions for virtual chips made by Horn between October 2022 and September 2023. The impact of playing these illegal slots on his life is described as devastating.
The lawsuit also cites a recent legal victory in 2020, where a federal judge in Washington ruled in favor of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Big Fish Games, a leading provider of social games. The judge concluded that social gaming players were risking “something of value” by purchasing gameplay credits and that this constituted gambling. The lawsuit against Amazon reflects a broader legal trend challenging the legality of social casino and free-to-play interactive gaming apps, claiming that these activities violate state gaming laws.
Overall, the lawsuit against Amazon signals continued legal scrutiny of the free-to-play social casino app industry, with potential implications for major players in the tech and gaming sectors.