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Disguising a gambling app as something else lands Apple in court

Disguising a gambling app as something else lands Apple in court
Back in 2017, a woman named Karen Workman downloaded an app from the App Store called "Jackpot Mania" that led her to file a lawsuit against Apple. Workman "began purchasing coins through the app so he/she could continue to play for a chance to win free coins that would enable him/her to enjoy the game for a longer period of time." According to AppleInsider, during the six-month time-period before she filed the lawsuit, Workman spent $3,312.19 on coins for the game.

While gambling apps are banned from the App Store, the suit says that games with in-app currency should also be considered a "gambling app" and banned because users "have the ability to win (coins) and therefore acquire more playing time." The lawsuit seeks class-action certification and demands that Apple refunds "all money paid through the illegal gambling games described herein," attorneys' fees; and an award for the plaintiff for "his/her services in this case on behalf of the class."

As the plaintiff argues, even though gambling apps are not allowed in the App Store, the credits that she won while playing "Jackpot Mania" are things of value since they can be saved up and used to play the game at a later date. Not only does the complaint accuse the App Store of hosting apps that violate Connecticut's gambling statutes, but it also points out that Apple is a major participant in the illegal activity. Quoting from the papers filed with the court, the plaintiffs say, "Apple is not some minor or incidental participant in these illegal gambling games. It is the principal promoter and facilitator of the illegal activity. Apple maintains dictatorial control over what apps can be downloaded from the App Store, and the payment method to purchase in-app items."

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and claims that Apple "promotes, enables, and profits" from gambling games on the App Store.

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