Amazon sued over social casino app, plaintiff says he's 'addicted'

Amazon has been named in a class action lawsuit against the site over its approval of a free social casino app.

Apr 8, 2024
3 min read
Amazon offers thousands of free slots and casino apps. A new lawsuit challenges the legality
Amazon offers thousands of free slots and casino apps. A new lawsuit challenges the legality of social gaming


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Amazon sued over social casino app, plaintiff says he's 'addicted'

Amazon, the world's largest online retailer and marketplace, has been named as a defendant in a proposed class action challenging the site's approval of a free social casino app.

Plaintiff Steve Horn, a Nevada resident, accused Amazon in a federal lawsuit of conspiring with social gaming apps to defraud consumers addicted to interactive slot machines. Horn's lawyers claim Amazon is taking advantage of an innocuous-sounding "free-to-play" model by forming alliances with social casino companies.

Most social gaming apps, such as Slotomania and DoubleDown Vegas Slots, are initially free to download and play. But apps often allow players to purchase additional game points after they lose their originally allocated game points. This money can never be withdrawn after depositing, nor can players win real money through the app.

Horn believes Amazon has made billions of dollars from "illegal internet gambling operations" by taking commissions from these apps.

Horn's lawsuit was filed in federal court in the Western District of Washington. The lawsuit seeks damages, which must be determined in court, as well as compensation for the players' losses. The lawsuit also seeks attorney's fees and expenses.

A search for "slot machines" in the Amazon App and Games store returned more than 10,000 results.

Social Casino is not free

Horn claims in the lawsuit that Amazon should not allow such apps to appear in its online store.

Their business of targeting, retaining and recovering losses from gambling addicts is inextricably linked to Amazon. "Horn's attorneys wrote. "Amazon continues to retain a 30 percent financial interest in profits by brokering slot machines, attracting customers, and acting as a bank. Therefore, Amazon is liable as an illegal gambling enterprise and complicit in the conspiracy. "

Horn said he was addicted to multiple social gaming apps, including "Take 5 Vegas Slots," "Lightning Link Casino" and "Quick Hit Slots." Horn claimed to spend hours a day playing games on his computer and mobile devices, and said he spent a lot of money to continue playing. Horn's lawsuit alleges that he conducted more than 320 virtual chip digital transactions between October 2022 and September 2023.

“Playing illegal slot machines has had a devastating impact on Plaintiff Horn’s life,” the lawsuit states.

Current Social Gaming Lawsuit Winner

In recent years, courts have sided with plaintiffs in legal arguments that social casinos and so-called "free" interactive gaming apps violate state gambling laws.

In 2020, a federal judge in Washington sided with the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Big Fish Games, a leading social gaming provider. In the $155 million class-action lawsuit, Judge Milan Smith said social gamers were risking "something of value" by buying game credits and therefore the activity constituted gambling.

“Users would not be able to play Big Fish Casino’s various games without virtual chips,” Smith said. "So if a user runs out of virtual chips and wants to continue playing, they will have to purchase more chips to 'have the privilege to play.'"

Churchill Downs acquired Big Fish Games in 2014 for $885 million. Four years later, the company sold its social gaming division to Aristocrat Leisure for $990 million.

"Despite making millions of dollars in revenue, Churchill Downs, like Captain Renault in Casablanca, pretends to be shocked—shocked!—by determining that Big Fish Casino may be illegal gambling. We are not," Millan concluded.

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