A Nevada man recently filed a lawsuit against Amazon alleging that the massive online retailer is distributing real-money casino games under the guise of social casino apps. In his lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington last week, Steve Horn says that Amazon is putting its customers in danger from the apps, which he says can lead social gamers down the path of real-money gambling addiction.
Horn, who says he was addicted to online slots, filed the suit in Washington State because courts there have already determined that social casinos are a form of gambling and are banned in the state. The plaintiff brings another advantage into the courtroom in the form of his representation by the Chicago law firm Edelson. Edelson has already squeezed out settlements from gaming operators in the social space and is looking for another big win against Amazon.
For its part, Amazon does in fact benefit from its relationship with social casinos. According to Horn’s suit, the company receives a 30 percent cut of wager placed on social casino apps it’s distributed. “Their business of targeting, retaining, and collecting losses from addicted gamblers is inextricably entwined with Amazon. Not only does Amazon retain full control over allowing social casinos into its store, and their distribution and promotion therein, but it also shares directly in a substantial portion of the gamblers’ losses, which are collected and controlled by Amazon,” Horn’s attorney’s wrote in their initial filing.
Horn is also alleging that Amazon’s social casino partners are unregulated and use algorithms that are designed to keep players playing, rather than winning, to keep them in an addictive cycle.
Besides a settlement, Horn is also asking that Amazon remove all social casino games and apps from its storefronts.
While this case could be very important in the long run, it’s still a long way from seeing any sort of resolution.