Washington: Amazon faces lawsuit over “dangerous partnership” with social casino apps

Amazon is being sued in a consumer class action lawsuit that accuses the tech giant of involvement in an illegal online gambling operation. The lawsuit, filed on November 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, alleges that the e-commerce heavyweight profited billions from distributing over 30 illegal casino apps to consumers and processing payments for virtual chips.

Initiated by a Nevada resident, who self-identified as an addict of illegal online slot games, the lawsuit accuses Amazon of forming a “dangerous partnership” with virtual casinos. The company is criticized in the lawsuit for offering “social casino” apps, considered illegal under Washington state gambling laws, as per a 2018 court ruling.

The accusation focuses on the free-to-play gambling model, which the lawsuit says “smuggles slot machines into the homes of consumers throughout the United States, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.” The games, while free, require users to purchase virtual chips to proceed, and Amazon is accused of maintaining a 30% financial interest, acting as both intermediary and bank.

The games are all free to play, and they do not generate cash payouts. Users instead can win virtual chips and must buy more to keep playing the games. According to the lawsuit, the company  “aggressively” markets and distributes these apps to consumers’ Amazon and Android devices. 

The Chicago-based law firm Edelson, leading the lawsuit, estimates that “tens of thousands of consumers” are affected by Amazon’s actions. Lawyers for the plaintiff seek restitution, damages, and other judicial measures.

Todd Logan, from Edelson, expressed expectations of bringing the case to trial in conversation with Reuters. “We look forward to trying this case to a jury of Amazon’s peers,” he said. The case is the firm’s eighth lawsuit over social casino apps.

This lawsuit comes at a time when Apple, Meta, and Google face similar legal challenges, with pending cases in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. As of now, Amazon has not officially commented on the case.