Judge Sides With Online Casino In Video Privacy Battle

Siding with Caesars Entertainment, a federal judge has dismissed a claim that the casino violated a federal video privacy law by sharing data with Meta Platforms via its pixel tracking code.

The decision, issued last week by U.S. District Court Judge Christine O'Hearn in New Jersey, stemmed from a 2003 lawsuit by online gamer Genaro Mendoza of San Diego. He claimed in a class-action complaint that Caesars ran afoul of the Video Privacy Protection Act by transmitting personally identifiable information about visitors to ceasarscasino.com with Meta.

That law, passed in 1988, prohibits “video tape providers” -- defined as companies that rent or sell prerecorded video cassette tapes or similar audio visual materials -- from disclosing consumers' personally identifiable video-viewing history without their consent.

The lawsuit is one of numerous recent video privacy cases brought against companies that incorporate tracking code in their online sites. Other businesses sued over similar allegations include the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gannett, The Epoch Times, WebMD, Paramount and Dotdash Meredith.



Mendoza alleged that every time he played online video games such as Lucky 7 at Caesars' site, the company transmitted his Facebook identifier, and name of the video game he played, to the social platform.

Caesars urged O'Hearn to dismiss the case at an early stage, arguing that the allegations, even if proven true, wouldn't show that the company violated the video privacy law.

Among other contentions, the casino said it wasn't a “video tape provider” and therefore wasn't covered by the law.

“Although online games may have audio and visual components and thus may involve 'audio visual materials,' they are not 'similar' to 'prerecorded video cassette tapes,'” the company argued in papers filed with O'Hearn in October.

O'Hearn agreed, essentially holding that the allegations in the complaint weren't detailed enough to prove that Caesars' online games are comparable to video tapes. She noted that while the complaint alleged that the online games contained videos, the complaint didn't say those videos had been “prerecorded.”

“Plaintiff does not allege that defendant's video game offerings include prerecorded content such as 'cut scenes,'” she wrote.

The dismissal was without prejudice, which means Mendoza can beef up his allegations and bring them again.

Earlier this year, a federal judge in New York allowed two GameStop users to proceed with a lawsuit alleging that the company violated the video privacy law by allegedly disclosing personally identifiable information about their video game purchases to Meta Platforms.

GameStop, like Caesars, said its video games weren't covered by the federal Video Privacy Protection Act.

U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain rejected that argument, writing in a February ruling that GameStop's games allegedly included “video cut scenes” -- meaning recorded videos that people can view while playing interactive games.

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