King’s Resort owner Leon Tsoukernik has drawn first blood in his legal battle against Facebook after a Czech court ruled the case won’t be heard in Ireland.
Facebook’s European HQ is in Dublin and, to date, the majority of its lawsuits have gone through the Irish court system. That won’t be the case this time, however, as Tsoukernik and his legal team successfully challenged an attempt to have the case held in Ireland. Instead, the $23 million lawsuit will be fought in the Czech Republic.
Tsoukernik takes on Facebook over fake news
Tsoukernik is suing Facebook because it ran a series of adverts from a company claiming to be King’s Casino. The ads were visible across Facebook and even used images of the Czech casino. Users were encouraged to click a link and play online casino games.
A warning was posted on the official King’s Resort Facebook page and Tsoukernik lodged a formal complaint. What he describes as radio silence and “no action” for “several weeks” followed, prompting him to take legal action. He filed a lawsuit in April claiming damages totaling $23.3 million while alleging that Facebook profited from the revenue the fake ads generated on its network.
“Someone who can’t be traced and [who] therefore doesn’t even have a [casino] license has decided to use our name, our casino, and advertise on Facebook. As a result, a powerful medium here helps fraudsters and takes money for it,” Tsoukernik told Czech media outlet Hospodářské Noviny.
He subsequently said that the fraudulent gaming app didn’t make reference to responsible gambling in its advertisements, something that’s required by Czech law. That alone is enough to render the content illegal.
For Tsoukernik, however, the lawsuit is about the damage that the ads caused to his company.
Tsoukernik is not only concerned that the site is able to operate under false pretenses but that it’s unlicensed when he has to comply with a host of regulations. There’s also the issue of money and reputation. As Tsoukernik notes in his lawsuit, King’s Resort could be in the firing line if people lose money on the fraudulent site.
“It hurts us because, if [the site] doesn’t return the money, people will think that King’s Casino didn’t return it to them,” Tsoukernik told Hospodářské Noviny in April.
The real King’s Resort stands up
King’s Casino posted the news on its website yesterday and described it as a “big advantage” having the case heard in the Czech Republic.
This, of course, isn’t the first lawsuit Facebook has faced. The social network’s first high-profile case was in 2004 against the founders of ConnectU. The now-defunct social network started by Divya Narendra and the Winklevoss Twins, and which was dramatized in the 2010 film The Social Network, was said to be the original Facebook.
ConnectU’s creators claimed that Mark Zuckerberg copied their idea and used the source code to launch Facebook. All parties agreed to a $65 million settlement in 2008, but that wouldn’t be the last time Facebook was in hot water. In 2019 alone, the company was faced multiple lawsuits totaling $5.1 billion.
A date for the first hearing between King’s Resort and Facebook is yet to be set and many of the legal challenges brought against Facebook often end in settlements before they ever get to court, which means King’s Resort may not need the home-court advantage it just won.
However the case proceeds, Tsoukernik now believes he has the upper hand against the social media giant.