Lawsuit claims Apple facilitates, benefits from illegal gambling on the App Store

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple has been hit with a lawsuit claiming that it hosts, facilities, and benefits from an illegal gambling enterprise on the App Store.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


The complaint, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, takes aim at free-to-play social casino apps that allow users to buy in-game currency with real money.

Like real slot machines and casinos, the lawsuit alleges that social casino apps are "extraordinarily profitable and high addictive." Unlike real casinos, however, it also notes that users cannot cash out chips for real money.

While the lawsuit focuses on casino apps, it targets Apple specifically for hosting the apps -- and for taking a 30% cut of in-app purchases.

"By utilizing Apple for distribution and payment processing, the social casinos entered into a mutually beneficial business partnership," the complaint says.

It goes on to claim that Apple's App Store helps distribution of the games, provides the app developers with data and insights on users, and enables processing of in-app payments. Apple, for its part, takes a cut that the plaintiffs allege is much higher than the "house" at normal casinos.

"The result (and intent) of this dangerous partnership is that consumers become addicted to social casino apps, maxing out their credit cards with purchases amounting to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars," the lawsuit says.

It adds that consumers spent $6 billion on virtual casino chips in 2020.

The lawsuit claims that Apple is in violation of California law, which bans slot machines. It also accuses Apple of racketeering and collection of unlawful debts.

The complaint names plaintiffs Donald Nelson and Cheree Bibbs, both of whom are social casino users who have spent "at least $15,000 each" in virtual casino currency. The lawsuit seeks class status.

Along with an order declaring Apple's alleged behavior unlawful, the lawsuit also seeks damages in the amount of the losses suffered and "disgorgement of all of Apple's ill-gotten gains," among other forms of relief.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    “Let’s roll the dice and see if our gambling lawsuit pays better than those apps we tried!”
    sdw2001leavingthebiggviclauyycwilliamlondonfred1ronnwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 27
    I just left a comment regarding an earlier lawsuit this morning. "Try to imagine a day without someone, somewhere suing Apple"! Guess I have to double down on that. Dingos and Jackels everywhere. 
    mark fearingwilliamlondonronnwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 27
    This could be interesting.

    You could (and some people have about games by EA and others with loot boxes) say exactly the same thing about freemium games of all types.

    On the other hand, Gambling assumes there is a chance of getting money or some other price in return. You explicitly can't do that here "Unlike real casinos, however, it also notes that users cannot cash out chips for real money." The definition for "Slot Machine" also implies some sort of material reward.

    I suspect it will get thrown out.
    sdw2001mark fearingronnwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 27
    Im am quoting the App Store rules for this kind of app, below.

    Apple didn't have to create any of these restrictions on gambling apps. And Apple could add more rules making them more restrictive. It's Apple's store, and they can sell whatever they want. This is not a store controlled by the public or by the government.

    I would be in more in favour of adding more restrictions for gambling apps rather than removing some.

    However I think the restriction on card counting apps should be removed. The reason given below is that card counters are "illegal." I don't live in the US, but I googled whether card counting is illegal, and the answer was no. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Card_counting#Legal_status Wikipedia documents no country in the world where card counting is "illegal." So the Apple rules are wrong when they claim that card counting apps are "illegal gambling aids".

    I find it interesting that Apple won't sell apps that help you defeat the casinos (card counting apps) but they will sell apps that let you defeat the police (police location apps). Apple supports "casinos over people" but not the "police over people."
    5.3 Gaming, Gambling, and Lotteries
    Gambling, gaming, and lotteries can be tricky to manage and tend to be one of the most regulated offerings on the App Store. Only include this functionality if you’ve fully vetted your legal obligations everywhere you make your app available and are prepared for extra time during the review process. Some things to keep in mind:
    • 5.3.1 Sweepstakes and contests must be sponsored by the developer of the app.
    • 5.3.2 Official rules for sweepstakes, contests, and raffles must be presented in the app and make clear that Apple is not a sponsor or involved in the activity in any manner.
    • 5.3.3 Apps may not use in-app purchase to purchase credit or currency for use in conjunction with real money gaming of any kind, and may not enable people to purchase lottery or raffle tickets or initiate fund transfers in the app.
    • 5.3.4 Apps that offer real money gaming (e.g. sports betting, poker, casino games, horse racing) or lotteries must have necessary licensing and permissions in the locations where the App is used, must be geo-restricted to those locations, and must be free on the App Store. Illegal gambling aids, including card counters, are not permitted on the App Store. Lottery apps must have consideration, chance, and a prize.
    edited January 25 ronnjony0
  • Reply 5 of 27
    Why not file such a suit against a wealthy company that rarely wins any suits 
  • Reply 6 of 27
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,005member

    However I think the restriction on card counting apps should be removed. The reason given below is that card counters are "illegal." I don't live in the US, but I googled whether card counting is illegal, and the answer was no. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Card_counting#Legal_status Wikipedia documents no country in the world where card counting is "illegal." So the Apple rules are wrong when they claim that card counting apps are "illegal gambling aids".

    I find it interesting that Apple won't sell apps that help you defeat the casinos (card counting apps) but they will sell apps that let you defeat the police (police location apps). Apple supports "casinos over people" but not the "police over people."

    The difference is that "defeat the police" is a collection of meaningless words that you made up to substantiate your nonsensical argument.  You haven't offered anything that is illegal that Apple allows on the App Store, only your personal opinion that things that help "defeat the police" shouldn't be allowed. 

    Gambling on the other hand is a concrete thing, and is defined as wagering money on the outcome of a game, which is (a) illegal or regulated in all states, and (b) an objective standard that can be applied to determine whether somethign is or isn't "gambling."

    Second, card counting with the aid of anything but your own brain is in fact illegal in every state with legalized gambling. See, e.g., Nevada Revised Statues 465.075:

    It is unlawful for any person to use, possess with the intent to use or assist another person in using or possessing with the intent to use any computerized, electronic, electrical or mechanical device, or any software or hardware, or any combination thereof, which is designed, constructed, altered or programmed to obtain an advantage at playing any game in a licensed gaming establishment or any game that is offered by a licensee or affiliate, including, without limitation, a device that . . . Keeps track of cards played or cards prepared for play in the game . . . 





    roundaboutnowsocalbrianrandominternetpersonronnjony0
  • Reply 7 of 27
    Most secure job in the world, an Apple attorney or the firm they use for all these BS suits. Everyday there is another. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 27

    However I think the restriction on card counting apps should be removed. The reason given below is that card counters are "illegal." I don't live in the US, but I googled whether card counting is illegal, and the answer was no. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Card_counting#Legal_status Wikipedia documents no country in the world where card counting is "illegal." So the Apple rules are wrong when they claim that card counting apps are "illegal gambling aids".
    You stopped Googling too soon. Card counting in your head is legal, but…

    "Card counting is NOT illegal under federal, state and local laws in the United States as long as players don't use any external card-counting device or people who assist them in counting cards."
    crowleyroundaboutnowbeowulfschmidtMacProwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 27
    How about a little responsibility for your own actions Donald Nelson and Cheree Bibbs. Then go get some help for your addictions.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 27


    However I think the restriction on card counting apps should be removed. The reason given below is that card counters are "illegal." I don't live in the US, but I googled whether card counting is illegal, and the answer was no. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Card_counting#Legal_status Wikipedia documents no country in the world where card counting is "illegal." So the Apple rules are wrong when they claim that card counting apps are "illegal gambling aids".

    It is illegal if you use a device to do it and even if it is legal a casino can ban you if they determine you are doing it. Device to no device Is not relevant other than a device makes it a crime rather than just a violation of the casino's rules. In your head doesn't matter and they are not required to prove anything to anyone.. If they say that's what you are doing then that's what you are doing.

    Is it right to ban someone who isn't cheating and just has superior skill that flips the odds? Not really, but too bad. That's the way it is. Don't go to casinos or gamble in apps if you don't like it.
  • Reply 11 of 27
    I wouldn't sue Apple.  I would sue the governments involved for allowing Apple to sell such apps.  The governments created the problem.  Apple is just complying with the laws.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 27
    i unfortunately read the comments, now i feel compelled to respond.

    Bunch of damn Apple apologists.

    I am generally an anti google person due to their gross behaviour toward and profiteering from violence, scams, hate, child targeting, predatory behaviour, destruction of value and being the biggest spammer on earth

    However the gambling simulators on the various app stores are horrendous and predatory; worse in my opinion is that any game that is free and stuffed with ads, will include ads promoting these kinds of apps directly to small kids.

    Google turns a blind eye and i expect that of them, however Apple turning a blind eye is real and equally -insert appropriate swear word-

    There is no apology, this is not a spurious law suit, it is Apple profiteering and the no doubt very hypocritical comments saying “control yourself” sadly highlight the quality and compassion of the commenters.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 13 of 27
    macseeker said:
    I wouldn't sue Apple.  I would sue the governments involved for allowing Apple to sell such apps.  The governments created the problem.  Apple is just complying with the laws.
    Are card games illegal now? The game Monopoly? Chutes and Ladders?
  • Reply 14 of 27
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,937member
    i unfortunately read the comments, now i feel compelled to respond.

    Bunch of damn Apple apologists.

    I am generally an anti google person due to their gross behaviour toward and profiteering from violence, scams, hate, child targeting, predatory behaviour, destruction of value and being the biggest spammer on earth

    However the gambling simulators on the various app stores are horrendous and predatory; worse in my opinion is that any game that is free and stuffed with ads, will include ads promoting these kinds of apps directly to small kids.

    Google turns a blind eye and i expect that of them, however Apple turning a blind eye is real and equally -insert appropriate swear word-

    There is no apology, this is not a spurious law suit, it is Apple profiteering and the no doubt very hypocritical comments saying “control yourself” sadly highlight the quality and compassion of the commenters.
    Sorry, your reasoning is weak.  If you think these stupid casino apps are wrong, work to change the laws stop make them illegal. Or, I suppose you could lobby Apple to change their App Store rules.  But to sue Apple?  It’s sorta ridiculous in this situation.

    Here is an analogy which I find makes the weakness of your position clear: suppose there were some people who could not stop eating potato chips, and it was making them fat and ruining their health.  Would the appropriate solution be to sue the supermarket?  Oh no, they were benefiting from these people’s compulsion to buy junk food!!  How can the supermarket simply expect people to “control themselves”?

    I mean, give me a break.  There are stores out there that sell tobacco, alcohol and caffeinated coffee—all addictive and dangerous (to varying degrees) substances.  And the stores that sell those things are not being sued out of existence.  Why not?  Because what they are doing is legal.
    williamlondonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 15 of 27
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,388member
    I predict this lawsuit from gambling addicts blaming Apple for their addiction will take exactly the same route last year's very similar lawsuit took, i.e. it went nowhere.
    williamlondonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 16 of 27
    Next we’ll have drug users suing their dealers. If what Apple’s doing is illegal complain to your DA or State’s Attorney. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 27
    flydog said:

    However I think the restriction on card counting apps should be removed. The reason given below is that card counters are "illegal." I don't live in the US, but I googled whether card counting is illegal, and the answer was no. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Card_counting#Legal_status Wikipedia documents no country in the world where card counting is "illegal." So the Apple rules are wrong when they claim that card counting apps are "illegal gambling aids".

    I find it interesting that Apple won't sell apps that help you defeat the casinos (card counting apps) but they will sell apps that let you defeat the police (police location apps). Apple supports "casinos over people" but not the "police over people."

    The difference is that "defeat the police" is a collection of meaningless words that you made up to substantiate your nonsensical argument.  You haven't offered anything that is illegal that Apple allows on the App Store, only your personal opinion that things that help "defeat the police" shouldn't be allowed. 

    Gambling on the other hand is a concrete thing, and is defined as wagering money on the outcome of a game, which is (a) illegal or regulated in all states, and (b) an objective standard that can be applied to determine whether somethign is or isn't "gambling."

    Second, card counting with the aid of anything but your own brain is in fact illegal in every state with legalized gambling. See, e.g., Nevada Revised Statues 465.075:

    It is unlawful for any person to use, possess with the intent to use or assist another person in using or possessing with the intent to use any computerized, electronic, electrical or mechanical device, or any software or hardware, or any combination thereof, which is designed, constructed, altered or programmed to obtain an advantage at playing any game in a licensed gaming establishment or any game that is offered by a licensee or affiliate, including, without limitation, a device that . . . Keeps track of cards played or cards prepared for play in the game . . . 
    As far as your comments about gambling go, you are correct, and I was incorrect, even though you did cut the quote short and omitted the exceptions. So in Nevada it would usually be illegal to use an app to assist with gambling. My research fell short and I misread wikipedia. Although I have no idea why card counting devices should be illegal.

    As far as your other point, that I didn't "offer anything that is illegal" regarding police tracking apps. An app doesn't have to be illegal for Apple to ban it. For example Apple bans apps that encourage the sale of tobacco. Tobacco isn't illegal in the US. So on this point, you are wrong. If I feel that Apple should ban apps that track police locations, that is a valid opinion and nothing you say can make that opinion wrong. Unless you think all the bans in the Apple App Store Guidelines are wrong, do you?
  • Reply 18 of 27

    Although I have no idea why card counting devices should be illegal.
    They're illegal because the casinos lobbied the Nevada government to make them illegal.  That's it.  No other reason.  Such devices cut into profits, and the casinos are integral to the Nevada economy, so the legislature rolled over.
    tokyojimujony0
  • Reply 19 of 27
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,712member

    As far as your other point, that I didn't "offer anything that is illegal" regarding police tracking apps. An app doesn't have to be illegal for Apple to ban it. For example Apple bans apps that encourage the sale of tobacco. Tobacco isn't illegal in the US. So on this point, you are wrong. 
    No they aren't, you've reintepreted what they said to something completely different to make them appear wrong.  They did not say that only illegal apps should be banned, only that you haven't given any reason to justify your tangent about police apps.  
    22july2013 said:

     If I feel that Apple should ban apps that track police locations, that is a valid opinion and nothing you say can make that opinion wrong.
    Opinions based on falsities, nonsense reasoning, or just unsubstantiated flights of fancy can certainly be wrong.
    22july2013 said:

    Unless you think all the bans in the Apple App Store Guidelines are wrong, do you?
    That a gross way to argue, putting nonsense in other people's mouth and then challenging them to defend it.  Stop it.  Stop all of this.
    edited January 26 bageljoey
  • Reply 20 of 27
    Im am quoting the App Store rules for this kind of app, below.

    Apple didn't have to create any of these restrictions on gambling apps. And Apple could add more rules making them more restrictive. It's Apple's store, and they can sell whatever they want. This is not a store controlled by the public or by the government.

    I would be in more in favour of adding more restrictions for gambling apps rather than removing some.

    However I think the restriction on card counting apps should be removed. The reason given below is that card counters are "illegal." I don't live in the US, but I googled whether card counting is illegal, and the answer was no. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Card_counting#Legal_status Wikipedia documents no country in the world where card counting is "illegal." So the Apple rules are wrong when they claim that card counting apps are "illegal gambling aids".

    I find it interesting that Apple won't sell apps that help you defeat the casinos (card counting apps) but they will sell apps that let you defeat the police (police location apps). Apple supports "casinos over people" but not the "police over people."
    5.3 Gaming, Gambling, and Lotteries
    Gambling, gaming, and lotteries can be tricky to manage and tend to be one of the most regulated offerings on the App Store. Only include this functionality if you’ve fully vetted your legal obligations everywhere you make your app available and are prepared for extra time during the review process. Some things to keep in mind:
    • 5.3.1 Sweepstakes and contests must be sponsored by the developer of the app.
    • 5.3.2 Official rules for sweepstakes, contests, and raffles must be presented in the app and make clear that Apple is not a sponsor or involved in the activity in any manner.
    • 5.3.3 Apps may not use in-app purchase to purchase credit or currency for use in conjunction with real money gaming of any kind, and may not enable people to purchase lottery or raffle tickets or initiate fund transfers in the app.
    • 5.3.4 Apps that offer real money gaming (e.g. sports betting, poker, casino games, horse racing) or lotteries must have necessary licensing and permissions in the locations where the App is used, must be geo-restricted to those locations, and must be free on the App Store. Illegal gambling aids, including card counters, are not permitted on the App Store. Lottery apps must have consideration, chance, and a prize.
     Card counting is illegal by policy of casino network - not by law. I do not need to read Internet papers. I worked in casinos in Europe. Stop confusing gambling laws and regulations with company policies.
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