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Could iPhone and iPad Casino Apps Be Banned in the USA?

Stack of SmartphonesIt’s fair to say that Apple haven’t quite got their heads around the legalities of allowing casino games in their US-facing App Store.

As we know, gambling is still banned in many American states, however loopholes in the guidelines that app developers must abide by mean that many casino titles are finding their way into Apple’s store – meaning that people can download and play them in states where betting is prohibited.

It’s claimed that the illegal content is available for download in more than 25 states, and now a pair of plaintiffs in California have launched a lawsuit that could force Apple to pay out damages to those who have downloaded said casino games.

And, in worse news for the firm, they could also face an injunction that would prevent them from accepting any gambling-related content into the App Store in the future….

The case, brought by Joshua McDonald and Michael Helsel, accuses Apple of benefitting financially from the illegal content, and cites titles developed by DoubleU Games Co specifically in the writ – even though they explicitly state that they aren’t offering ‘real money’ games.

The wording describes Apple themselves as an ‘unlicensed casino’, allowing their customers to freely download casino games that, although free-to-play, still constitute gambling due to their use of chips or coins as in-game currency. In some cases, the same titles would encourage players to deposit real money when their digital bankroll had been wiped out.

The lawsuit intimates that paying real money to essentially buy more time in game constitutes gambling, and as such violates the various anti-betting laws that exist in the 25+ states noted in the claim – of which the class-action has been raised on behalf of.

If the legal action makes its way through the initial processes, it could make it all the way to a jury trial – if the plaintiffs win, they could force Apple to change their app development rules and regulations and prevent casino games from being added to the App Store in the United States.

Apple Facing the Crunch

Gavel on USA Flag

This action is significant because it is not the only live lawsuit currently filtering through the courts against Apple.

A woman in Connecticut as also launched a legal case against the brand, stating that apps within the firm’s store ‘promotes, enables and profits’ from real money gambling.

Karen Workman spent more than $3,000 playing Jackpot Mania, a casino-style game she had downloaded from the App Store. This was billed as a free-to-play title, however to buy more time at the tables she and other players had to use real cash to buy the in-game currency.

Her case still sits with the U.S. District Court of Connecticut, which suggests that the pressure is starting to build on Apple to remove all casino-style gaming from their store.

That would echo the scenario that unfolded in China, where Apple were forced to remove more than 2,000 casino games and apps from its Chinese-facing store in 2018 after controversy over the nature of ‘free to play’ gaming.