Amazon.com Inc. has recently submitted a motion requesting a pause in the class-action lawsuit alleging its involvement in an unlawful online gambling operation through its collaborations with social casino platforms. The company’s defense hinges on the Communication Decency Act (CDA), which it believes exempts online publishers like Amazon from being held accountable for third-party content. Amazon’s motion is seeking a delay in court proceedings until the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals delivers a verdict on a similar lawsuit involving tech giants Apple, Google, and Facebook (Meta).
The essence of the filing is centered on the question of whether the CDA provides immunity to app store operators such as Amazon in these situations. This is a crucial part of an ongoing appeal in the Ninth Circuit that involves the mentioned tech companies. Amazon’s argument is that the outcome of this appeal could potentially dismiss this lawsuit or at least simplify the primary issue of CDA immunity.
Amazon contends that pausing the lawsuit would be advantageous for all parties involved. The company argues that this would prevent unnecessary expenditure of resources on a complex issue that is soon to be addressed by the Ninth Circuit. They claim that the plaintiff, Mr. Horn, would not face any prejudice due to this delay. Reuters reports that the Ninth Circuit is expected to review the cases against Google, Apple, and Meta in the upcoming spring.
Allegations of Racketeering in Social Casino Partnerships
In November of the previous year, plaintiff Steven Horn initiated a lawsuit against Amazon, accusing the company of earning substantial revenue through its distribution of social casino apps and facilitating sales of virtual chips, equating these actions to racketeering.
Central to Horn’s lawsuit is a prior ruling by a U.S. appeals court, which declared social casinos illegal under the laws of Washington State. Horn seeks compensation and legal redress under various acts, including the Washington Consumer Protection Act (CPA), the Washington Return of Money Lost at Gambling Act (RMLGA), and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
The lawsuit underlines the addictive nature of slot mechanics in social casinos and their ability to exploit users, resulting in an estimated expenditure of $6 billion on social casino chips in 2020 alone. It asserts that Amazon significantly profits from this, taking a 30-percent commission on every transaction, a rate considerably higher than traditional casinos.
Moreover, Horn’s legal team argues that tens of thousands of individuals have been adversely affected by Amazon’s continued engagement in these social casino ventures, despite being aware of their legality issues.
Amazon’s Argument for a Stay in Proceedings
Amazon is steadfast in its stance that Horn’s legal claims are unfounded. However, the company believes that temporarily halting the lawsuit could streamline the legal process for all parties involved.
Amazon’s motion suggests that allowing the Ninth Circuit to first deliberate on the extent of Section 230 immunity, under circumstances similar to this case, would clarify and potentially resolve the issue. The company emphasizes that this approach would avoid premature legal expenses and efforts until the scope of Section 230 immunity is clearly defined by the Ninth Circuit.
In its conclusion, Amazon reiterates that delaying the proceedings would not only be beneficial to the Court and the parties involved but also to Mr. Horn, by preventing unnecessary legal costs and efforts pending the Ninth Circuit’s decision in the related case of In re Apple.