Alabama lawsuit hits Apple, Google over gambling games

Two federal lawsuits filed Wednesday seek refunds for Alabama residents who downloaded games from app stores the plaintiffs say are illegal gambling under state law.

The potential class action lawsuits were filed against tech giants Apple and Google by two Shelby County residents who purchased the app-based games and paid money for more playing time.

The suit specifically deals with games that begin by offering the player a set number of free starting “coins” to play the slots, blackjack, roulette, poker, keno, bingo, and other card and gambling games.

A loss results in a loss of the coins, but the customer has the chance to win more coins. When a customer runs out of coins, the player is prompted to use real money to buy more coins to keep playing. Both suits list 200 games available through Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store that feature casino-type gambling.

"Apple and its chief mobile device software competitor, Google, both allow customers to purchase games that are no more or no less than casino-style slot machines, casino-style table games, and other common gambling games,” one suit alleges.

The suits contend that under Alabama’s gambling statutes, paying money in a game for a chance to win more playing time constitutes illegal gambling. The suit brings up the state’s legal definition of “something of value,” which it says is not limited to games where one gambles in the hopes of winning actual cash.

“Rather, ‘something of value’ specifically includes ‘extension of a service entertainment or a privilege of playing at a game or scheme without charge.’ As a matter of law, paying money to get 'coins’ one bets hoping to win more 'coins’ so as to gain the ‘privilege of playing at a game or scheme without charge’ is gambling a thing of value under Alabama law,” the suits contend.

The actions also say that Apple and Google can geo-restrict who can access these games. “In fact, with cash-out gambling games it regularly restricts those games so that they can only be played in states where that type of gambling is legal,” one suit states.

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https://www.al.com/news/2020/10/alabama-lawsuit-hits-apple-google-over-gambling-games.html