Posted on: January 6, 2022, 04:30h. 

Last updated on: January 6, 2022, 04:30h.

A federal judge in San Francisco on Tuesday denied a class-action lawsuit against tech giant Apple which claimed loot boxes in the video game Brawl Stars amounted to gambling.

Brawl Stars loot boxes
Brawl Stars, pictured, uses paid loot boxes, but there is no law against this in California, according to US District Court Judge Richard Seeborg. (Image: Brawl Stars/Supercell)

The lawsuit was filed last year by California mom Rebecca Taylor, whose son downloaded the mobile battle-arena shooter game from the App Store. Taylor said her son subsequently purchased $25 in virtual, in-game currency, which he then splurged on loot boxes.

But US District Court Judge Richard Seeborg in the Northern District of California ruled that loot boxes were legal in California, and it was down to lawmakers, not the courts, to prohibit them if appropriate.

“Existing statutory law does not plainly prohibit ‘loot boxes,’” he wrote. “If plaintiffs’ allegations regarding the harmful affects [sic] of loot boxes are accurate, the public interest likely lies in seeking legislative remedies.”

What are Loot Boxes?

In video games, loot boxes are virtual “grab bags” which can be unlocked during gameplay or via in-game microtransactions to generate a randomized selection of “loot.” This can range from customization options for a player’s avatar or character to equipment such as weapons and armor.

Since they employ chance-based mechanics and players can sometimes pay to unlock them, they draw comparisons to gambling. But generally, loot boxes do not fall into the legal definition of gambling because the “prize” – the virtual items within — cannot be said to be “something of value.”

But in 2018, a federal judge in Washington State broke the mold, ruling that the virtual currency in Big Fish social casino games was indeed “something of value,” which made it illegal gambling under state law.

That decision resulted in a $155 million settlement from Big Fish to former players.

‘No Economic Damage’

Taylor claimed the loot boxes in Brawl Stars were akin to slot machines.

“Buying a loot box is a gamble, because the player does not know what the loot box actually contains until it is opened,” the complaint argued.

Meanwhile, Apple benefitted from a “predatory monetization scheme that violates established public policies and constitutes immoral, unethical, or unscrupulous conduct.” Taylor alleged this violated California laws against unfair business practices.

Apple’s lawyers argued that since the game uses virtual currency, and the virtual items acquired in the game cannot be used or sold in the real world, it wasn’t clear how the plaintiff had suffered economic injury.

The judge agreed, and that may bode for the tech giants. There have been slew of lawsuits against Apple, Facebook, and Google, alleging social casinos on the platforms constitute illegal gambling. These were recently consolidated into one master complaint and will be heard by the same Northern California federal court.

(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)

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