King’s Resort Sues Facebook for $23M Over Fraudulent Online Casino Ads

Leon Tsoukernik’s King’s Resort, home of the World Series of Poker Europe, has announced that it’s suing Facebook for more than $23 million over the social media giant’s acceptance and promotion of a fraudulent online casino making use of King’s name and images.

The lawsuit alleges that Facebook has knowingly profited from the fraudulent ads, and has even promoted the fake “King’s Casino” online site — with the ads making full use of images of the real King’s Resort — via sponsored ads within Facebook’s own app for smartphones.

King's Casino fake site

KIng’s Resort, the home of WSOP Europe, claims it’s being victimized by an online gambling site that’s stolen its name and likeness. (Image: Facebook/Pokerroomkings)

King’s Resort warned its own Facebook readers of the fake site four weeks ago, via both its Facebook account and its own online home. “You may have come across a sponsored link with a photo of the Rozvadov King’s entrance, enticing you to play an online casino game,” warned the Rozvadov, Czech Republic casino. “Please note that this is a scam, we have nothing to do with this advertisement!”

Tsoukernik’s casino files action in Czech court

King’s Resort filed the action in the Czech Republic’s Pilsen Regional Court in the first week of April. The lawsuit names Facebook as the lead defendant, due to the fraudulent gambling site’s identity being hidden from outsiders, though its ownership must be known to Facebook in order for them to have accepted paid advertising. The lawsuit seeks half a billion Czech crowns, worth more than US$23 million.

According to Tsoukernik, Facebook’s profiteering from the fraudulent ads makes them responsible for King’s damages. “Someone who can’t be traced and 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. That’s why we’re suing Facebook for harm,” he told Czech outlet Hospodářské Noviny. “We’ve asked Facebook several times to [remove] it.”

Tsoukernik’s mention of his casino’s Czech casino license also infers a secondary reason for the lawsuit; proving to Czech regulators that his King’s Resort is indeed the victim and is not actually running the site in question. The brick-and-mortar casino remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this year’s edition of WSOP Europe, which was first hosted by King’s in 2017, has yet to be officially scheduled.

Facebook allegedly non-responsive to complaints

While Tsoukernik declared that Facebook had ignored its complaints, Hospodářské Noviny reported similar results, having reached out to Facebook on multiple occasions but receiving only a boilerplate response that Facebook “takes the issue of misleading ads very seriously.” Facebook refused to comment on the specific issue involving the King’s Resort fraud.

For years, Facebook has been accused of taking ads from virtually all comers with few or no questions asked. The company has been in the news continuously over accusations of repeatedly running fraudulent, misleading, or outright scam ads. Investigative reports digging into the proliferation of these sponsored ads, including interviews with company insiders, have concluded it’s a systemic Facebook issue. As a recent Buzzfeed report put it, “Facebook’s ad workers have at times been told to ignore suspicious behavior unless it ‘would result in financial losses for Facebook.’”

Written by
Haley Hintze
Contributing writer Haley Hintze is a 20-year veteran of the poker world, a Women in Poker Hall of Fame finalist, and two-time Global Poker Awards finalist.

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