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Federal lawsuit claims Apple hosts ‘illegal social casinos’


Technology giant Apple has been accused of hosting and facilitating dozens of illegal social casinos in a new lawsuit that has been lodged in a US District Court.

The filing in the Northern District of California claims that Apple participates in “an illegal internet gambling enterprise” by distributing social games through its App Store that allow virtual chips to be bought.

Facebook and Google are also mentioned alongside Apple in the filing, which alleges that the platforms, as well as social casino companies, have “found a way to smuggle slot machines into the homes of consumers nationwide” by “leveraging an ‘innocuous-sounding’ free-to-play model”. It adds that Apple takes a 30% cut of in-app purchases.

Fifty games that are available via the App Store are listed in the filing, which is seeking class-action status.

The plaintiffs are named as Donald Nelson from Wisconsin and Cheree Bibbs from Alabama, both of whom are stated to have lost at least $15,000 through the games.

The lawsuit, which also includes extracts from five different sworn statements in relation to the complaint, adds that $6bn was “gambled away” on virtual casino chips last year.

“Social casinos are not just illegal under California law, but they would not be legal slot machines under any state law as they cheat players out of a legitimately randomized slot machine experience,” the filing states.

“Not only can players never actually win money, but their financial losses are maximized by deceptive gameplay tweaks that would never be allowed in a legitimate slot machine.”

The lawsuit claims that social casino apps are “extraordinarily profitable and high addictive”, but don’t allow players to cash out chips for real money, unlike real casinos.

Last year, Apple faced a class-action lawsuit, which alleged that it promoted gambling to children by offering games with “Loot Box” mechanics.