Less than a month after court papers were issued to Apple, who have been accused of allowing illegal casino games in their App Store, now it’s the turn of Facebook to be accused of allowing gambling to flourish on the social network.
Three individuals in California have clubbed together to bring a legal case against Mark Zuckerberg’s empire, claiming that the social media platform was an active participant in ‘an illegal internet gambling enterprise.’
The focal point of the class action? So called ‘social casinos’, which the plaintiffs of the case argue are enabling ‘Vegas style’ slot machine gambling, masquerading as free-to-play casual games, that are widely available via Facebook and other popular platforms.
The legal papers accuse Facebook of ‘smuggling’ slot machines into peoples’ homes on their smartphone, tablet and computers.
For the most part, social casinos are free to play in that they use a virtual currency with which players can stake freely. However, in some cases, when a player has used their virtual stack up they can then purchase more chips for real money – designed to entrap individuals in a game for longer.
And this legal action claims that often players cannot cash out their winnings made with their real money prizes, and the legal argument put forward is that Facebook ‘….leverages big data and social network pressures to identify, target, and exploit consumers prone to addictive behaviours.’
By allowing social casinos to advertise via Facebook, the plaintiffs in the case argue that Facebook are indirectly profiting from gambling – which remains prohibited in many American states.
The legal papers also claim that nine of the top twelve grossing apps on Facebook are social casinos with in-built real money betting, and that the social network takes as much as 30% commission from every wager placed.
Those bringing the suit are, reportedly, gambling addicts that have collectively lost more than $300,000 playing social casino games in California. They are filing class action papers under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ‘on behalf of all persons in the United States who have lost money to any illegal slots through the Facebook platform.’
A Costly Error?
In a week of potential legislative misery, Facebook are facing another legal case brought against them by Leon Tsoukernik and the King’s Resort, a casino in the Czech Republic that currently hosts the World Series of Poker Europe.
Tsoukernik is claiming an astonishing $23 million after images of the King’s Resort were used to promote a fraudulent online casino that has nothing to do with the Czech firm.
The legal papers declare that Facebook has profited from the fraud and even allowed them to place sponsored ads within the Facebook app – despite Tsoukernik requesting on three separate occasions that the social network took the casino down. To place sponsored ads, the user must reveal their name and payment details to Facebook, which in theory means they are no longer anonymous.
As such, Tsoukernik believes that Facebook is liable for damages.
“Someone who can’t be traced and therefore doesn’t even have a [casino] license has decided to use our name, our casino, and advertise on Facebook,” he told Czech media firm Hospodářské Noviny.
“As a result, a powerful medium here helps fraudsters and takes money for it. That’s why we’re suing Facebook for harm.”