Back in April, Leon Tsoukernik decided to take legal actions against Facebook due to false advertising of the King’s Casino on their social media. It is quite an overwhelming task to try and sue the largest social media company in the world that can afford any legal team it desires, however, Tsoukernik does have quite a solid case against them.
Recently, Leon Tsoukernik was able to win the first round of a $23 million court battle against Facebook after a Czech court stated that they have jurisdiction over this case. A preliminary injunction was also issued at Facebook, forcing it to remove the ads in question. In this article, we will discuss all of the relevant information regarding this unusual case and its future.
Along with other casinos in the world, King’s Casino had to temporarily close its doors for a while due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and early 2021. Undoubtedly it was a challenging time for casino owners and staff, as well as its players.
Unfortunately, someone has decided to take advantage of Tsoukernik’s casino closure by using his brand to launсh their online casino. On top of that, they used Facebook to advertise it.
Their fraudulent casino was called King’s Casino Online (even though Tsoukernik’s casino has never offered online games) and was promoted as “The best Czech casino is now online!”. Furthermore, the advertisement promised that every user will get a $140 welcome bonus. Of course, Tsoukernik and his team did everything possible to shut this down. They were able to trace the fraudulent site to an American company, however, no specific people/names were identified. Surprisingly, Facebook has ignored multiple requests from Tsoukernik to remove the ads. The site was able to exploit Facebook as a prominent platform and has attracted many people, therefore it was needed to shut it down as quickly as possible, but no actions were taken by Facebook. Leon Tsoukernik told the following to the Czech news outlet regarding this situation:
“It is not possible to take a foreign brand and attract money from it. It also hurts us, because if they don’t return the money, you will think that King’s Casino did not return it to them.”
Tsoukernik has finally decided to take legal actions against Facebook in April 2021. He sued Facebook in the regional court in Prague for an injunction that would force Facebook to remove the ads. The financial compensation that amounted to around $23 million was also demanded.
A Small Victory for Leon
Last week, King’s Casino posted an update on their website regarding this case. It stated that Facebook had failed to get the case heard in Dublin, Irelands where their European headquarters are located. King’s Casino website announcement reads the following:
“A court in Prague has now ruled that the Czech courts have jurisdiction in this case, which is a big advantage for King’s.”
This means that the case hearing will be proceeded in the Czech court system, therefore giving King’s Casino a “home” advantage. On top of that, the Czech court stated that fraudulent Facebook ads did not have a responsible gambling notice, which is required for all gambling-related ads in the Czech Republic. This fact alone should prevent Facebook from posting them.
As mentioned previously in the article, the Prague Municipal Court has also issued a preliminary injunction against Facebook, demanding them to remove all of the published advertisements that relate to King’s Casino. This is another big advantage because whether Facebook complies with this demand or not, it will still allow Tsoukernik to seek more amount in damage, especially in a case of noncompliance.
Even though the advertisements used the Czech flag, they did not have a proper disclaimer regarding irresponsible gambling, therefore, in the words of the judge:
“This is clear evidence that the sponsor of the misleading advertisements does not have the necessary permission to operate gambling.”
Leon Tsoukernik has also shared some of his previous experience with Facebook advertisements:
“In other media, if we want to advertise, they require us to prove the license, trademarks for the logo, and the like. Even two years ago, Facebook demanded it from us, so I don’t understand how they can release such fraudulent advertising.”
Currently, this case is a waiting game for Tsoukernik and King’s Casino as Facebook is still to respond. The court typically provides 15 days for an appeal, but it can be longer, given that Facebook is located in Ireland. It is not surprising, as the delivery of documents between these organizations can take up to a month.
Tsoukernik’s attorney, Tomáš Osička is confident that King’s Casino has a solid case and has a “high degree of probability” of proving Tsoukernik right in this dispute. However, communication with such a media giant is challenging to say the least. There appear to be no talks of settlement due to a lack of response from Facebook. Tomáš Osička had no luck in reaching the company and has stated the following:
“We don’t even have anyone to communicate with; there are no contacts for the company’s management on the website. We didn’t even talk about it with the client.”
The future of the case remains uncertain. There is no defined timeline for the dispute and the only thing Leon can do is wait for Facebook’s response. In a scenario where Facebook does not respond, the Prague court will proceed with or without the representation of the social media company. It is evident and completely understandable that Tsoukernik and his attorney are quite frustrated from a lack of any reply from Facebook, however, they do believe that they have a strong case. Given the circumstances, such as the lack of proper gambling restrictions and action from the social media company, Leon indeed has an opportunity to win the case, but it is unlikely that it will be resolved in a near future.
Other casinos affected by similar deceptive and unlawful advertisements included the Grand Casino Asch in the Czech Republic and the Casino Wien in neighboring Austria.
The date for the initial case hearing is yet to be determined.