Plaintiffs Oppose Dismissal in Google ‘Loot Box’ Gaming Case

Plaintiffs in the Northern California class action lawsuit alleging that Google LLC violates gambling laws through the use of loot boxes in video games opposed the motion to dismiss the case last Friday. 

Video game loot boxes are digital grab bags with unknown contents that can be purchased with real or in-game currency; according to the complaint, Google receives 30 percent of all loot box sales made through its Google Play store. The plaintiffs claim that loot boxes violate the Unfair Competition Law, the Consumers Legal Remedies Act and constitute unjust enrichment. 

“Loot boxes are predatory by design. They are structured like traditional gambling games to exploit  cognitive  traps,  psychological  triggers,  and  behavioral  heuristics  that  cause  people  to purchase them even when they know it is not in their interest to do so,” the suit states. 

In its motion to dismiss, Google claims that it is protected under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which prevents online intermediaries from being held legally responsible for content published on their platforms. However, the plaintiffs claim Google is liable for facilitating and profiting from gambling activity, placing it outside of Section 230 protection. 

“Google encourages developers to create loot boxes and monetize games through them, provides tools for them to do so, and then acts as merchant for the illegal transaction,” the plaintiffs state. 

Google previously submitted a motion to dismiss the case, which was granted with leave to amend in February. The suit was initially filed in June 2020 and amended in March 2021.

The plaintiffs are represented by Timothy G. Blood and Thomas J. O’Reardon II of Blood Hurst & O’Reardon LLP and Andrew J. Brown of The Law Offices of Andrew J. Brown

Google is represented by Bradford K. Newman, Alexander G. Davis, Anne Kelts Assayag and Teresa H. Michaud of Baker & McKenzie LLP