Casino app maker AviaGames accused of pitting players against bots

AviaGames, the Silicon Valley-based developer of popular casino apps like Bingo Tour and Solitaire Clash, has been the subject of a class-action lawsuit that claims users were tricked into playing against bots rather than human players with similar skills.

“Avia users have collectively wagered hundreds of millions of dollars to compete in these games of ‘skill’ against what Avia says are other human users,” according to the lawsuit filed Friday in the Northern District of California, US. .

“However, it turns out that the entire premise of Avia’s platform is false: instead of competing against real people, Avia’s computers populate and/or control games with computer “robots” that can impact or control the outcome of the games. games”. the lawsuit alleges.

The stakes are high as Avia’s offerings are among the most popular apps on Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play store, according to the lawsuit.

As of the lawsuit’s filing Friday, Avia’s Solitaire Clash, Bingo Clash and Bingo Tour were the No. 2, 4 and 7 apps in the casino category, according to the lawsuit.

“Avia’s games are rigged games of chance that amount to an unapproved gambling enterprise,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit seeking class action status was filed by Andrew Pandolfi of Texas, who estimates he lost thousands of dollars playing Avia games; and Mandi Shawcroft of Idaho, who says he lost hundreds.

It includes all other affected players who participated in games using the Pocket7Games app, which can be used to access multiple casino games.

AviaGames, a private company based in Mountain View, California, recently raised cash from investors in 2021 in a deal that valued the company at $620 million.

Sensor Tower says it has 3.5 million monthly active users.

Judge Beth Labson Freeman said the evidence appears to suggest that Pocket7 is using bots.

AviaGames did not respond to calls about the class action lawsuit.

This lawsuit by players follows lawsuits filed in 2021 by Avia rival Skillz Games for patent and copyright infringement against AviaGames that uncovered the alleged use of bots and are still making their way through the courts.

Skillz alleges that AviaGames can match players for games quickly because they are actually robots, allowing it to take market share from Skillz, whose customers can wait up to 15 minutes for an opposing human player.

Skillz’s lawsuits against AviaGames took a turn in late May when, at the end of discovery, AviaGames turned over nearly 20,000 documents covering internal communications in Chinese, according to court documents. Skillz translated them and allegedly found evidence that AviaGames used bots.

In the Skillz patent case, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman ruled in September that internal communications between AviaGames executives revealed in the trove of discovery documents “appear to suggest that AviaGames uses bots on its Pocket7Games platform.”

AviaGames founder and CEO Vickie Chen said in a statement that Pocket7 does not use bots in its games.

Skillz has been seeking communications between AviaGames and its lawyers about bots, and Judge Freeman ruled last week that Skillz met the standard for seeing some of the communications AviaGames was required to turn over by Friday, according to court documents.

New York City malpractice attorney Andrew Lavoott Bluestone, who is not involved in the AviaGames cases, said it is very rare for a plaintiff to get a judge to grant him the right to see attorney-client communications under the law.

“Judge [who reviews the privileged information first] “You have to find that there is probable cause that a crime or fraud has been committed.”

If a defendant asks how to protect themselves against charges of crime or fraud, these are protected attorney-client communications. But the judge can break that seal if he sees that, instead, a conversation was about the promotion of a fraud or crime that had not yet been committed.

“They need to see that the defendant asked for advice on how not to get caught.”

Pocket7 players may have no real chance of winning if they play with robots.

When asked last month about allegations that the company’s apps use bots, an AviaGames spokeswoman responded with a written statement.

“The claims against AviaGames are unfounded and the company is focusing its attention on supporting our diverse, growing and very satisfied gaming community and addressing these false claims at the appropriate time and place in legal proceedings, in which we are confident we will prevail.” . ”

“While we cannot comment on the details of the ongoing litigation at this time, the allegations presented are without merit and AviaGames looks forward to rebutting these unwarranted and unfounded charges at trial.”

AviaGames raised money in August 2021 at a valuation of $620 million.

“AviaGames stands behind its intellectual property, its unique gaming technology, the design of its games and the integrity of its executive team. “Avia is the only skill-based game publisher that offers a seamless all-in-one platform that delivers an accessible, reliable and high-quality mobile gaming experience for all its players,” the spokesperson said.

Some players have long suspected that the games are rigged. There is a Facebook group Pocket7Games/AviaGames = Scam.

“Because Pocket7Games blocks people who speak honestly about the fraudulent way they operate, it seemed necessary to create a group to hold them accountable for their actions and warn others,” group organizer Caitlin Cohen said on Facebook.

“It is absolutely rigged. After you are fooled by the initial winnings, you will be placed into winning or losing slots AFTER you have earned your score; they choose who wins in group games AND 1v1 games,” Gretchen Woods said in March on Quora. “Sometimes you just see a generic player you’re paired with. That is a sign that they are manipulating the result.”

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