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Facebook Sued over Social Casinos and Apps
Facebook is no longer just a place where you write quirky statuses and share awkward photo albums. It is also a place where you stalk your ex, sell old furniture, and fight trolls in specialized closed groups. But apparently, according to a class-action complaint filed in the Northern District of California, there is more to it. This social network giant is being sued for, essentially, being an illegal gambling enterprise. Three individuals have decided to put an end to casino advertisements and apps, and argue that popular social media is actually offering illegal gaming services. Facebook is not the only company that faced such charges; similar lawsuits were filed against Google and Apple.
Facebook Social Casinos - Legal or Not?
The main concern of the lawsuit, presented by Edelson PC law firm, is that the popular social media company is allowing social casino ads and apps. The prosecution argues that 9 out of the 12 top-grossing apps are social casinos. Social casino apps offer slots and other types of gambling entertainment. They are a crossover between the casino and video games. Such casinos don’t accept real money stakes. Instead, customers buy coin packages and play with virtual funds. And Facebook allegedly made a 30% commission on all purchased coin packages. Furthermore, it operated as a payment platform for all mentioned apps. Most authorities struggle to apply existing legal frameworks to these social casinos.
The suit says that Facebook, as well as Google and Apple, violate gambling laws in several US states. They are providing a direct connection between the slot machine and the customer. The prosecution also says that Facebook has full control over the apps that operate on the platform. The company also promotes social casinos and makes money from them. Therefore, it is also 100% responsible for what is going on, just like app providers. What is interesting is that the three individuals opted for Edelson PC law firm. This law firm is very experienced in fighting big companies.
Who Will Win?
Of course, when we look at the entire case, it seems pretty clear cut that Facebook will at least pay a hefty fine. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that things are not that easy. Edelson PC claims that the social network is violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and California’s Unfair Competition Law. Yet, it is important to keep in mind social casino apps allow 100% free play. Purchases are not obligatory. Customers can choose to play only with the virtual funds they collect during their sessions. Essentially, every individual is responsible for their own actions. On the other hand, one might argue that Facebook is using users’ data to target vulnerable audiences or those who show signs of interest in gambling.
Some experts claim that social casinos are legal, as long as they don’t require an investment (deposit, purchase), are a game of skill, and offer no prizes. With that perspective in mind, the lawsuit doesn’t stand a chance. All Facebook apps can be used for free, you can rely on daily bonuses and challenges to win extra coins, and you can never withdraw any funds or win real money. We are no legal experts, and therefore can’t claim to know what the verdict will be. But stay tuned, as this might be one of the most important rulings in gaming history in the US.