Leon Tsoukernik has won his first battle in the courts against Facebook; his case will be heard in the Prague courts rather than in Dublin, where Facebook is based in Europe.
Tsoukernik owns the King’s Resort in Rozvadov, home of Europe’s biggest poker room. He claims that Facebook has been running illegal ads that use King’s Resort to sell online poker services.
He also alleges that the ads themselves were outright scams.
According to the King’s website, having the case heard in Prague gives the casino a home-field advantage. In Europe, the blue F is based in Dublin, where the majority of suits against it are heard.
“Most lawsuits against Facebook are handled in Ireland, where Facebook’s headquarters are located,” the statement from King’s reads. “However, a court in Prague has now ruled that the Czech courts have jurisdiction in this case, which is a big advantage for King’s.”
Tsoukernik filed the suit against Facebook in response to a number of ads on the platform which claimed to be for an online casino run by King’s. King’s does not—and never has—run an online poker site.
The Grand Casino Asch and Casino Wein were the subjects of similar allegedly fraudulent ads. The ads offered deposit bonuses to new players and used the casinos’ logos in the ads. Some of these ads showed a picture of King’s with the caption “Nejlepší české casino je nyní online!” (“The best Czech casino is now online!”).
King’s added that: “it was also found that the allegedly illegal advertising for the online gaming app did not include a reference to gambling addiction prevention. All Czech casinos are obliged to include this notice in their advertising and on their homepages. This is another indication that this is illegal gambling advertising.”
Alleged illegal gambling ads
King’s has requested a half-billion Czech korunas ($23.3 million) in damages from Facebook.
When King’s does advertise its services, it has to file trademark and copyright materials, Tsoukernik says. He presumes that this requirement must have been waived, bypassed, or beaten by the allegedly fraudulent ads.
“Leon Tsoukernik sues Facebook!” tweeted the King’s Resort account about the original suit. “He takes legal action against app fraud. He is suing Facebook for half a billion Czech crowns (about $23,000,000 US) for spreading misleading advertising of a casino app abusing the name of King’s.”
King’s reported the ads to Facebook, but received no satisfaction through that route. The company also issued warnings on its website in a post titled: “Beware of scam! Adverts for online games app masquerading as King’s!”
Tsoukernik claims that his suit is motivated by a desire to prevent harm to those who may be scammed. However, the enormous fee requested in damages would seem to put profit on the map as a possible motive too.
“Someone who cannot be traced and therefore doesn’t even have a license to operate has decided to use our name, our casino, and advertise on Facebook,” said Tsoukernik. “As a result, [Facebook] is helping fraudsters and takes money for it. That’s why we’re sueing [Facebook] for harm.”
Prague is one of the biggest hubs for poker outside of the U.S. and Macau. The WPT holds events on King’s properties, and the Rozvadov site hosts a cash game festival and several high roller series most years. A win will put a lot of extra cash into the poker room, a loss will still get King’s plenty of headline space. Facebook is a windmill well worth tilting at.
Featured image source: Flickr by WPT