To add to the recent influx of legal questions about Pokemon Go, I'd like to ask: Can a shopping mall force people playing Pokemon Go to leave (without fear of legal repercussions)?

I heard from a friend that a shopping mall declared that anyone playing Pokemon Go in the store would be kicked out. But I imagine myself walking into such a mall, and an employee comes over and asks "Stop playing Pokemon Go or leave."

My response is perhaps


or maybe alternatively

"Can you prove I'm playing Pokemon Go? And no you may not inspect my personal belongings."

What can they legally do? For example, (for a specific legal domain) lets say I'm in New York.

And if the short answer is yes, are there any ways players could twist the situation? For one example, could players sue the store for discrimination? Or some other way? Would the decision in any way put the store in a tricky legal situation?

2 Answers 2


I think you would have difficulty distorting the situation - Pokemon Go is not magic that defies existing laws, and this would be no different to a mall issuing a trespass notice (which is effectively how they would kick you out) for any other reason.

I would question the ability of a store to "Arrest" you - that is a job for the police - After they trespass you (ie by giving you notice to leave), if you come back again then they can call the police to arrest you - but its not as clear-cut as someone seeing you playing a game and arresting you.

I don't think Pokemon players are a "protected class" of people, so finding a valid cause of action might be tricky.

About the best you could do would be to talk with your wallet (ie shop elsewhere with your friends), but for my money that would make me more likely to go to that mall !

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    Sounds crazy but just in theory: What if someone registered a religion in the US based on worshiping Pokemon? Would pokemon go users then have a case against the mall since the mall announced it would throw out customers using the pokemon app specifically?
    – J.Todd
    Jul 14, 2016 at 8:39
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    I believe that "Religious liberty" does not prevent the regulation of certain behaviours, and I'd be surprised if religion could be used to prevent trespass.
    – davidgo
    Jul 14, 2016 at 9:29
  • Like, you couldn't kick people out of a mall for using a Muslim geo location app if your mall happens to be on top of a Muslim religious holy site. Yeah that's unrealistic but it's comparable right? yeah this is speculative (and Im not arguing - Im not even a pokemon fan) but just out of curiosity it's worth considering the scenario.
    – J.Todd
    Jul 14, 2016 at 9:38
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    Why couldn't you do that , assuming you owned the mall ? Do I have the right to come into your home just because my religion says I can ? Also, the problem is not that you are using a catholic geolocation app, its that you are using any geolocation app.
    – davidgo
    Jul 14, 2016 at 9:42
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    Regarding pulling the religious prosecution card: While it might not be legal to ban Pokemon worshippers from the store in general, it might be legal to ban those who want to practice their religion in the store by playing Pokemon Go.
    – Philipp
    Jul 14, 2016 at 14:34

In the U.S. (42 U.S. Code § 2000): proprietors of "public accommodations," which include retail establishments like shopping malls, cannot discriminate on the basis of "race, color, religion, or national origin." Some states add additional protected classes.

So, suppose you satisfy a court that playing Pokemon Go is the exercise of your religion. In that case: A shopping mall that excludes you for being an adherent of Pokemon Go would be violating your civil rights.

However, there are plenty of "time and place" laws to control nuisances – loitering, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, etc. I.e., your "religion" doesn't give you a blank check on exercise in public, and certainly not on private property just because it is a "public accommodation." So a shopping mall can eject you because your activities are disruptive (regardless of whether they are religious), rather than for your religious beliefs.

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