A recent news report by Casino Affiliate Programs details that Amazon is facing a lawsuit over its ties to social casino games and apps. Social casino apps, like Slotomania, Big Fish Casino, Pop Slots, and others, simulate real money gambling through virtual coins but do not provide any actual payouts. However, they utilize many of the same psychological hooks and tricks as real online gambling sites to keep users spending money and engaged.
The lawsuit alleges that Amazon promotes these social casino apps, provides infrastructure services to their developers, and profits from the in-app purchases despite their gambling-like nature. Specifically, the plaintiff argues that Amazon "provides crucial hosting support and infrastructure" to these games, handles financial transactions for in-app purchases, and markets the games prominently on its App Store and Prime Gaming service.
While social casino games do not directly enable real-money gambling, studies show that they normalize related behaviors. Critics argue that by promoting them predominantly and driving users to spend freely through microtransactions, Amazon contributes to future risks of gambling addiction and other disorders. However, Amazon maintains that these games comply fully with its policies as they offer no cash payout methods.
The plaintiff seeks monetary damages and a ban on Amazon's participation in social casino app promotion and monetization. However, legal experts speculate the likelihood of the lawsuit succeeding is low. Social casino games occupy a gray area without clear gambling definitions, and Amazon merely enables developers as a platform without direct involvement in design or operations. Nonetheless, the lawsuit draws attention to ongoing concerns around such gamified apps and their treatment by significant app stores.
In the future, regulators may need to establish more precise rules around social casino games and their allowable methods of promotion and monetization. For now, however, Amazon remains legally clear but under scrutiny for its perceived contribution to the growth of such potentially addictive games. The original news report by Casino Affiliate Programs can be read here.