Tech giant Apple faces another class-action lawsuit for allegedly operating illegal gambling apps on its App Store, specifically titles developed by DoubleU Games.
Complaint Focuses on In-Game Currencies
Another class-action lawsuit has been filed against Apple, alleging that the tech giant benefits from illegal betting apps on the App Store. The petition, which was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California on April 6, alleges that apps developed by Korean gaming firm DoubleU Games Co. constitute illegal casino activities in violation of numerous state laws.
Apple is accused of acting as an “unlicensed casino” by allowing and enabling unauthorized gambling. “Accordingly, Apple actively enables, permits, promotions, and profits from illegal gambling,” the complaint says. It condemns free-to-play gambling games that use in-game currencies rather than real money. It notes that players may, however, use actual money to buy more coins or chips, but that they have no redeemable value and cannot be transferred or withdrawn.
The complaint states that “paying money in a game for a chance to win more playing time violates the anti-gambling laws of [at least 25 states], and seeks class-action lawsuits in those 25 states.
Apple Accused of Targeting Specific Vulnerable Users
Plaintiffs Joshua McDonald and Michael Helsel have filed the lawsuit, seeking statutory damages and expenses, in addition to an injunction barring Apple from engaging in any more suspected illegal activities.
According to the complaint, the majority of the revenue generated by casino apps comes from a small group of players who are “specifically targeted“ due to the large sums of money they are willing to spend. McDonald is shown to have spent $4.99 on in-game money, while Helsel is shown to have spent at least $107.99 each time on at least five different coin transactions, plus other purchases.
Apple has been accused of operating or profiting from illicit gambling apps in the past. After spending thousands of dollars on in-game money, a woman filed a lawsuit against Apple in October 2020 for allegedly hosting illicit casino apps. Another class-action lawsuit worth $5 million, filed in February, accused Apple of taking a 30% share of casino-style apps sales.
In a statement, DoubleU Games emphasized that the lawsuit was not filed against their company and that “social casinos have not been specified as illegal gambling in any US state statutes so far, and the plaintiff of the lawsuit is based on a broad interpretation of the laws on virtual coins, social casino purchase chips, etc.”. The developer added that the impact of lawsuits against platform operators on gaming providers was considered limited.