Web Sites “Fined” For Gambling Advertising

Web giants to settle gambling allegations

The U.S. attorney in St. Louis announced the settlements Wednesday with Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc., which she accused of selling ads that steered U.S. Web surfers to offshore gambling websites. The Justice Department considers publishers of such gambling ads to be accessories to a crime.

Without admitting or denying liability, the three companies agreed to forfeit millions of dollars they took in from the suspect ads, and Microsoft and Yahoo vowed to run public service campaigns warning young people that online gambling is illegal.

All three Internet companies said they had stopped accepting gambling ads in 2004, more than six months after the government warned magazine publishers that similar ads were illegal.

So they did not participate in online gaming, they simply hosted ads (that until told otherwise, they believed to be legal). Ads for a service that allows adults to consensually engage in peaceful commerce, commerce that is legal in Vegas, California, Atlantic City, Alabama, and on countless riverboats and Indian reservations throughout this nation. Then, when told the ads were illegal, they stopped within several months and haven’t engaged in the behavior since.

And for this, they’re forced asked to pay Danegeld to the Feds, as well as run ad campaigns “informing” the public that online gambling is illegal. I guess I can’t blame them for settling. It may not be right, but I’m sure it’s a lot cheaper for them than going to bat against the feds, who have the advantage of writing all the rules in the first place. This probably shouldn’t be considered a fine, rather it’s “protection money” against the racketeers in D.C.

And it’s not going to stop:

She said her office was continuing to investigate whether other forms of promotion, such as the sponsorship of televised tournaments by a poker company affiliate, were “artifices to promote illegal gambling” and therefore illegal.

Any guess as to what her investigation will find– and whether it depends on how deep the pockets are of the subject of investigation?

  • Justin Bowen

    I apologize in advance for commenting on something entirely off topic which hasn’t even been discussed here (I know some people here hate this), but the email link (for Brad) doesn’t work. There is a rumor flying around the blogs (and an actual website to “back up” what the bloggers are talking about) that the Lakotah Indians have withdrawn from the treaties that they signed and declared their independence. Does anyone else know about this?