Amazon sued over 'dangerous partnership' with virtual casino apps
Nov 13 (Reuters) - Amazon.com (AMZN.O) earned billions of dollars through an "illegal internet gambling enterprise" by distributing casino-style apps and processing payments for virtual chips, a new proposed consumer class-action lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit, filed on Friday by a Nevada resident who said he was addicted to illegal online slot games, accuses Amazon of offering more than 30 illegal casino apps to consumers in a "dangerous partnership" with virtual casinos.
The complaint cites a 2018 U.S. appeals court ruling that found "social casino" apps to be illegal under Washington state gambling law. The case is the latest in Washington federal court targeting online slot machines and other games.
Amazon and social casinos "have found a way to smuggle slot machines into the homes of consumers throughout the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year," the lawsuit said.
A spokesperson for Amazon on Monday did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The plaintiffs law firm that filed the case, Chicago-founded Edelson, has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in class-action settlements so far in related litigation over virtual casino apps.
Edelson's Todd Logan, who leads the firm's gambling practice, said the case was the firm's eighth lawsuit over social casino apps. "We look forward to trying this case to a jury of Amazon's peers," he said.
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.
The lawsuit said "despite knowing that social casinos are illegal, Amazon continues to maintain a 30% financial interest in the upside by brokering the slot machine games, driving customers to them, and acting as the bank."
Lawyers for the plaintiff estimated the class size to be "tens of thousands of consumers." They are seeking damages and restitution, among other court orders.
The lawsuit comes as Apple, Meta and Google are challenging a California federal judge's 2022 order that said they could be held liable for payment-processing the virtual chip payments that are part of social casino apps.
The appeals are pending in the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The case is Steve Horn v. Amazon.com Inc, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, 2:23-cv-01727.
For plaintiff: Todd Logan of Edelson; and Cecily Jordan of Tousley Brain Stephens
For defendant: No appearance yet