Consumer News

CATrends: ‘Free-to-Play’ Virtual Casino Games

Games are free to download but not to play, lawsuits allege.

Consumer News

CATrends: ‘Free-to-Play’ Virtual Casino Games

This article highlights a trend in class-action litigation as identified by our Class-Action Tracker. Thus the name of this feature, CATrends. (Apologies if you were expecting funny cat videos.)

Several class-action lawsuits filed in recent months allege that virtual casino games are deceptively marketed as “free to play.” According to the litigation, the games are free to download but not actually free to play.

A class-action lawsuit filed in June against the developer of Huuuge Casino Slots and Billionaire Casino explains:

The proliferation of internet-connected mobile devices has led to the growth of what are known in the industry as ‘free-to-play’ videogames. The term is a misnomer. It refers to a model by which the initial download of the game is free, but companies reap huge profits by selling thousands of ‘in-app’ items that start at $0.99 but can quickly escalate to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

According to the complaint, after players lose all the virtual chips they’re given when they download the games, which plaintiffs allege is a “highly likely” outcome, they’re required to spend money to purchase more chips in order to keep playing. The complaint, which was filed in California, states:

[D]espite purporting to be free-to-play, Defendant reaps massive profits by selling ‘in-app’ bundles of virtual chips. Players of the Games make these in-app purchases for the purpose of being able to continue playing the Games’ slot machines when they lose their chips to those games of chance.

Other games named in litigation include Chumba Casino, LuckyLand Slots and Tycoon Casino.

In addition to engaging in false and misleading advertising, the lawsuits accuse the game developers of violating state gambling laws.

Find more of our coverage on “free” marketing claims here.

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