Apple, Meta and Google’s casino app case to be heard by 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals

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The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals will hear cases against three giants of technology in which the plaintiffs contend that the defendants provide online gambling platforms for illicit activity. That came after a lower court federal judge requested clarification on an obscure precedent.

The cases concern Facebook owner Meta Platforms, Apple, and Alphabet, the parent company of Google. In a recent combined ruling, US District Judge Edward Davila of San Jose dismissed two of the three claims of the plaintiffs.

According to Davila’s decision, the three tech firms are shielded from accusations that they provided casino apps and subsequently gave developers access to associated information. This reported behaviour was done to aid game vendors in getting more money from players. Davila cited the Communications Decency Act’s Section 230.

Davila, however, also stated that Section 230 does not grant immunity to assertions that the businesses processed and accepted funds from clients to buy digital chips for the gaming apps. Davila, a former president Obama appointee, acknowledged that he could not be correctly reading the scope of Section 230 and requested the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals to reassess the decision.

“This case involves controlling questions of law, namely whether the platforms are entitled to immunity for their hosting of the allegedly unlawful social casino apps. While the court believes it has followed the 9th Circuit’s precedent on this complicated question, the court finds that reasonable minds could differ as to the outcome,” Davila wrote in his decision.

The three most well-known defendants in the aforementioned lawsuit are Alphabet, Apple, and Meta. The decision may have an impact on other businesses, including specialized gaming businesses. If courts adopt a strict posture about the distinction between in-app purchases and real money gambling, such businesses would probably be impacted.

Meanwhile, in India, Google has been involved in a litigation against WinZo in the Delhi High Court. WinZo asserts that Google engaged in discriminatory behavior, by showing a warning on Android OS devices when users attempted to download the WinZO gaming software (.apk file) using the WinZO website. In response, Google, in a written statement submitted through its representatives last week, claimed that the “Winzo app is admittedly, a gambling platform which provides users to perform financial transactions.”

According to Google, due to some checks implemented in the backend, apps downloaded through the Play Store do not display any warnings. They claim that a number of these app stores employ comparable security procedures.

Moreover, in a latest key development, Google said that it would begin a limited period pilot to offer fantasy sports and rummy games on the Play Store in India. However, on September 8, Thursday, the move received backlash from industry experts who charged the tech company for lack of inclusiveness by not adding other games of skill.