The Bank of America Penny Arcade Lawsuit

The New York State Attorney General’s Office is currently investigating TD Bank’s penny auction system. According to officials, the investigation found that the company used language in one of their promotional advertisements which appeared to be suggestive of a lottery-style game – in this case, the possibility that the winning player would receive a free slot machine. The state filed a complaint against the bank and later settled with them for an undisclosed amount. So what exactly went down?

TD Bank penny Arcade Lawsuit

According to the complaint, the advertising in question implied that winning a slot machine through “game play” (i.e., coin counting) was akin to winning a lottery. One television commercial even showed someone playing the game with the caption, “The winner will receive a FREE Slot Machine.” These claims were both false and misleading. For starters, a lottery is a random process; people are not randomly picked to win the jackpot. Also, while it is possible to “lose” a slot machine game (as in, you might “miss” a payoff), in no way is it “free.” To put it simply, the penny arcade was selling the promise of winnings with false analogies and obvious misinformation.

It’s important to understand that there is nothing inherently dishonest or wrong with a game like slot machine gaming.

After all, many Americans play such games with great success, making it clear that they have fun, can be addictive, and are safe. Still, this particular game seems inherently problematic because it suggests that winning is simply a matter of chance. When one enters a game and loses, the only message conveyed is, “Winning” and “losing” are synonymous.

It seems likely that this faulty marketing strategy was the catalyst to bring about the Bank of America penny arcade lawsuit.

It is likely that such a marketing plan was used by operators of the said arcade to draw people in, create excitement for the “game of the century” (if such a thing exists), attract new business, and make money from a very risky venture. This is a common practice among arcade operators. Such strategies do not work for everyone. However, this is what we know happened here.

If such an arcade lawsuit could happen to you, could you be sued as a result?

Obviously not. There is no such thing as a “slots vs. cheats” contest. What could happen is that the operator of the said business might be accused of attempting to manipulate people into playing a game in which winning means nothing. The fact that people would rather lose than win should not deter them from playing. Such tactics are not only unethical, but could also be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which prohibits any sort of financial fraud.

Such accusations are often made without any evidence of wrongdoing.

One thing that you can do to prevent this from happening is to make sure that the operators actually belong to a legitimate business. One way to check is by checking with the Better Business Bureau. You may also contact the local attorney general or other lawyers for possible suggestions. It always helps to be prepared so that you will not end up on the wrong end of an accusation.

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