On Friday, a consumer filed a class-action complaint against Google, LLC and Google Payment Corp. in the Northern District of California for allegedly “profiting from illegal gambling games developed by DoubleU Games Co., Ltd. and offered, sold, and distributed by Google through its Google Play Store for consumers to download and play.” This lawsuit parallels a lawsuit against Google over Zynga’s gambling games.
The plaintiff averred that Google “offers, sells, and distributes casino-style slot machines, casino-style table games, and other common gambling games to consumers through Google Play,” which allegedly “constitutes illegal gambling pursuant to the law of various states.” According to the complaint, Android users pay money to either download apps or through in-app purchases, of which Google earns a 30 percent commission for facilitating the transaction. Accordingly, Android users pay to play these gambling game apps via in-app purchases, thus Google earns a commission from people playing these games. The plaintiff asserted that Google and DoubleU are “responsible for the creation or development” of the apps, including DoubleU Casino, Take 5 Slots, Hello Vegas Slots, and DoubleU Bingo.
The plaintiff claimed that “when a consumer downloads and initially opens one of DoubleU Games Apps, the consumer is given free ‘coins’ or ‘chips’ to start with, i.e., 100,000 or 1,000,000, to play the game. The Double U Games Apps work essentially like a casino slot machine or other Las Vegas-style games … A loss results in a loss of coins or chips, but the consumer has an opportunity to win additional coins or chips and will be prompted to use real money to purchase additional coins or chips for the chance to continue playing the game.”
The plaintiff noted that “winning” only results in the player acquiring more playing time, and that “paying money in a game for a chance to win more playing time” violates the anti-gambling laws of 25 states. The complaint also pointed to the $3.5 billion which Americans spent in 2019 playing “free-to-play” apps like the DoubleU Games Apps. The plaintiff added that the majority of the revenue from these casino-style apps is made from a small percentage of players, “who are specifically targeted because of the large amounts they will spend.”
The plaintiff proffered that because Google is partially responsible “for the creation or development of the DoubleU Games Apps and provides the sole means by which DoubleU Games can offer, distribute, and sell its DoubleU Games apps to Google Consumers” via Google Play that the defendant “actively enables, permits, promotes, and profits from illegal gambling.”
The causes of action listed in the complaint are violation of civil remedy statutes for recovery of gambling losses and unjust enrichment. The plaintiff seeks class certification, injunctive and equitable relief, an award for damages, restitution or disgorgement, and other costs.