Federal Judge Dismisses Some Claims in Ongoing Social Casino Games Lawsuit against Google, Apple and Meta

A federal judge of California has dismissed some claims in an ongoing multidistrict legal action against international technology giants Google, Apple, and Meta over allegedly allowing unlawful social casino games on their platforms. Still, the judge noted that their order could be subject to an immediate appeal, and further explained that the case presents exceptional circumstances that could benefit from the input of the Ninth Circuit.

Several days ago, the Northern District of California issued an opinion that partly backed social casino users, as it determined that the three aforementioned defendants defeated only two of three theories of liability on Section 230 of the grounds of the Communications Decency Act. As mentioned above, the ruling was certified for immediate appeal.

As previously reported by CasinoGamesPro, the class action lawsuit has alleged that so-called social casinos are illegal gambling operations. According to the plaintiffs, the social casino games – or, in other words, casino-style games that users play on their mobile devices and pay with real money for receiving more chances to play – could result in serious gambling addiction, not to mention the severe financial losses that could be generated because of the exploitative nature of the games.

According to the master complaint that was filed in court in November 2021, the targeted marketing and distribution of social casino games carried out by the three aforementioned international technology companies has enabled unlawful gambling and increased user spending. The legal action also makes claims against the companies under the provisions of many state unfair competition laws, illegal gambling and gambling loss laws, as well as unjust enrichment laws.

The three defendants have separately sought dismissal under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).

Plaintiffs Say Offering Social Casino Games on International Tech Giant’s Platforms Is Illegal

In his 37-page ruling issued a few days ago, Judge Edward J. Davila reiterated the law’s history, as well as at least six Ninth Circuit cases that were relevant under the above-mentioned Section 230 of the CDA. According to the Judge, the immunity of Section 230 was extremely important, which is why courts needed to closely examine the facts alleged and ask who was responsible for the alleged illegal conduct.

The second theory of liability that had been unveiled by the plaintiffs sought to hold the platforms responsible for instances of selling gambling chips, which is an illegal practice under the existing gambling laws. This theory was eventually supported by Judge Davila because it held the platforms liable for their own misconduct rather than the actions of game developers.

However, the first and third theories unveiled by the plaintiffs in the legal action fell short of trying to hold the platforms responsible because they took issue with their editorial functions. The third theory, in particular, sought to hold the platforms responsible for sharing some important data, which the court found unactionable.

Considering the fact that the lawsuit involves controlling questions of law, the court decided to certify its order under which the partial dismissal of the charges could be subject to an immediate interlocutory appeal. The case is now waiting for the Ninth Circuit to determine whether to accept the certification or not.