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Why Should Google, Microsoft & Yahoo Have To Pay Fines For Casino Advertising?

from the makes-no-sense dept

The pointless US campaign against online gambling has snared another bunch of innocent victims. A few years back, the DOJ started a new program: rather than trying to stop online gambling directly (since all were operating outside of the US), it would simply go after websites that ran ads from casinos. The problem is that this would appear to be a free speech violation. Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped the folks in the Justice Department from applying pressure to companies -- and it looks like the three big search engines have caved. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have agreed to pay a combined $31.5 million for running ads from gambling sites in the past (the fines are to be paid as a mixture of cash, donations to charity and public service announcements). The companies aren't admitting guilt -- which seems reasonable because they're not guilty of anything. None of these companies was involved in illegal online gambling. None of these companies even embraced or endorsed illegal online gambling. As platform providers for ads, they simply allowed others to buy ads on their sites for online gambling sites. There shouldn't be any liability directly on those search engines -- but it's tough to fight the US gov't, and since the amounts are relatively small, it's not a huge surprise that the companies settled. It is unfortunate, though. No matter whether you are for or against online gambling, there's simply no reason to go after the search engines. If the ads themselves were illegal, go after those who bought the ads.

Filed Under: ads, doj, gambling, liability, search engines
Companies: google, microsoft, yahoo


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  • identicon
    Kyros, 19 Dec 2007 @ 8:32pm

    Surprise

    Surprise! The American government being moronic and abusing power!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chris, 19 Dec 2007 @ 11:06pm

      Re: Surprise

      I always love how people say that Americans are stupid, and continually berrate us with a holier-than-thou complex for living anywhere else. Yes, the American government is corrupt, yes it abuses it's powers, and yes a lot of people do not know any better. However, this can be said of every other country in the world. We the people do not account for anything other than a means to continually line the pockets of the worlds elite. Behind the curtians they pull the strings, get people they want into posistions of power, and maniuplate the masses to continually fued with each other. Nothing is more profitbale than war, and that's why there will always be one. Even on such a small scale as two "factions" fighting over simple little instances such as online gambling. Sue a person there, sue a person here... either way money's being spent and the government gets a nice fat cut. Ignorance is truely bliss, reality is nothing but a guranteed dissapointment.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Cheryl, 12 Jan 2008 @ 9:19am

        Re: Re: Surprise RE:

        I am not surprised. You have said this well and I agree that the is abusing mainstream people. How much more crap will it take before people pay attention? The powers of the elite does not credit them as intelligent or worthy of any more than a pay check for showing up to work. Same as regular folks but they are so blind sighted by trying to pay their inflated bills that most are too exhausted to think. It is not ignorence citizens are portraring it is basic planned tomfolly by the government; by the people, for the people. OOPS, again the Constution has been rewritten.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tim, 19 Dec 2007 @ 8:39pm

    No Surprise

    This isn't uncommon with the oafs we "elected" into office twice. Hopefully whoever the goon is that gets elected next time will straighten this out.

    After that, real-estate is starting to look nice in the Great White North is becoming tempting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mike, 19 Dec 2007 @ 8:43pm

    Chump Change

    Very interesting story...

    But it seems like the combined $31.5m would be a drop in a bucket to these companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2007 @ 9:13pm

      Re: Chump Change

      Okay, you give me a dollar every week from now on.

      It's chump change to you so you will have no problem doing this for the rest of my life, right?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    sweetweaver, 20 Dec 2007 @ 12:17am

    Technically they did break the law

    For the first time in my life I'm compelled to support the DOJ and the charges brought against the search engines. However petty and underhanded the DOJ tactics are to curb online gambling, these Web sites hosted ads within their property that linked to Web sites that are illegal in most states, as far as I know. This was an irresponsible business decision, and they should be made aware of their mistake, no matter how light the slap is to their wrists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Peter Thomas, 20 Dec 2007 @ 2:59am

    Technically the US breaks international law... @sw

    The US ban on online gambling isn't exactly legal in the first place, Sweetweaver. Do catch up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Cathy R., 20 Dec 2007 @ 3:58am

    Old Crappy Laws

    Laws really should come with an expiration date. The wire act was created in the 60 for strong arming mobsters... AOL was introduced in the 1980... really it's quite impossible that those writing the wire act meant for it to have anything to do with the internet, or poker.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    chaplain bob, 20 Dec 2007 @ 4:19am

    gambling

    I do not understand how the feds can get the search engines to pay for something they are not really involved in. So what if the payment is small - next time it can be huge, maybe billions. seems like no authority really. I am no fan of gambling and the feds are mad due to not cut of the money to waste. my take on the subject.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 20 Dec 2007 @ 5:18am

    Re #2 Tim

    I don't know about you (I am assuming from your response you are on the same boat) but I sure as hell never voted for the guy with an IQ of 50.
    Good use of the "" around elected.
    Very accurate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    BTR1701, 20 Dec 2007 @ 7:26am

    Gambling

    This is fantastic. Nothing like watching your government blatantly strong-arming private business in violation of the Bill of Rights.

    And not one of these guys who is so hysterically afraid of the idea that Americans might gamble online has yet to explain why I can’t play poker on my computer and I need the government to protect me from its evils but I can spend a week in Vegas playing poker and throwing my money down the sinkhole or walk down the street and buy a lottery ticket-- and that's all perfectly legal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    On Line Gambling is a Fraud, 20 Dec 2007 @ 10:09am

    The campaign against on line gambling is not pointless. Online gambling is corrupt, does not pay taxes, engages in odds manipulation, and prays on addicts.

    The government has a responsibility to protect its citizens from corruption and fraud.

    Any corporation that willfully enables illegal fraudulent activity designed to harm or bamboozle the public should be prosecuted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2007 @ 12:20pm

      Re:

      > does not pay taxes

      You've hit on the real and only reason for the government's zeal against online gambling. Just like the old mafia godfathers, the U.S. government is not getting its cut and if it can't have a cut of the action, then it stamps out the action altogether. That and online gambling competes with the big casinos in Vegas and Atlantic City, all of whom pay handsomely to have their interests protected by the politicians who are supposed to represent the people.

      As for online gambling praying on addicts, so what? People are grown adults and should be allowed to make their own decisions in life. I personally don't need or want some bureaucrat in Washington taking on a self-appointed nanny role my life to protect me from myself.

      And if they were really worried about gambling addicts, they'd outlaw gambling EVERYWHERE, including Nevada, Atlantic City and all state-run lotteries. But the reality is they couldn't give tinker's damn about addicts, so long as they get their cut. They just use that as a more palatable excuse to ban and regulate what they can't profit from.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      SailorRipley, 20 Dec 2007 @ 12:59pm

      Re:

      dude, you are a pathetic shill...I know intelligence is not a prime requirement for shills, but still, you really are sad

      prays on addicts

      unlike all the casinos that are on American soil? Unlike the lottery Powerball and all those scratch thingies (I've seen people who make minimal wage or are on welfare spend "fortunes" on those)

      is corrupt

      right, unlike everyone involved in the domestic gambling industry, they are all on the straight and narrow no doubt

      odds manipulation

      some proof of that might be nice, otherwise it's kinda a really convenient unsubstantiated claim, isn't it? But let's assume it is true...the cause of action should be to convince the governments of the countries that host those manipulating sites (and/or where the companies behind them are located) to step up to the plate to eliminate such shenanigans

      does not pay taxes

      again, I seriously doubt that, so put up or shut up...show some proof that these sites do not pay taxes in the countries they are located in.

      The government has a responsibility to protect its citizens from corruption and fraud.

      sounds like a good slogan, however it has little to do with anything in this discussion...hell, even 2 of your 4 "why online gambling should be stopped" reasons has nothing to do with possibly protecting citizens from corruption and fraud

      Any corporation that willfully enables illegal fraudulent activity designed to harm or bamboozle the public should be prosecuted.

      another true statement, it would somebody an accessory...but good luck proving/convincing anybody that by showing ads, they are "enabling" anything...
      while you're on that path, shouldn't search engines return 0 search results when somebody wants to a search for "online gambling"? After all, by clicking the link(s) from the results, they'll find the online gambling site(s)...
      And while you're at it, shouldn't they also not show any results on how to make bombs, drugs,... surely showing those results enables a user to engage in "illegal...activity to harm...the public"

      And now for a bit of truth: the only reason the US government is banning online gambling and trying all these retarded strategies is for one and one reason only: because it doesn't get its (tax)cut

      go shill yourself

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Tired of Idealistic Liberals, 20 Dec 2007 @ 1:10pm

        Re: Re:

        The government not getting its cut is a valid reason for them to prohibit something. It seems naive to believe that these things aren't or shouldn't be driven by money or self-interest.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          SailorRipley, 20 Dec 2007 @ 2:01pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          First off, I never said somebody not getting their cut never is a valid reason (whether or not it is in this case I'll tackle later). What I did say, although I phrased it more diplomatically is that the myriad of reasons listed by the poster/shill I responded is total b*llsh*t... that and, quoting myself the only reason the US government is banning online gambling and trying all these retarded strategies is for one and one reason only: because it doesn't get its (tax)cut

          As far as I can tell, even by trying to read between the lines of my own post, I included no commentary whatsoever about the validity of the not getting your cut motivation. Unless you want to interpret "retarded strategies" that way. However that would be a stretch, the level of intelligence and/or common sense invoked by a particular practical strategy does not reflect in any way on the validity of ones initial motivation.

          But since you breached the subject, let me ponder over it for a second... sure, I agree that a government not getting its cut is a valid reason for said government to act upon it and eliminate the "injustice".

          One would think the first cause of action ought to be finding a way to get its cut after all. And prohibition should be kept as a last resort (actually, not even as that, because after all, if there's a demand, there will be a supply, no matter what you try to prevent it, the war on drugs, the prohibition on alcohol, to name but a few examples, should have made that painfully clear)

          But I digress although I thought it worth pointing out. As for the core question...does the (US) government deserve a cut? Although analogies often are quite flawed or simply do not apply, I am going to use one: if a US citizen would go on vacation to Antigua and while being there, frequent a casino and gamble, the US government would (rightfully so) not receive a cut, I hope you at least admit/agree to that. Well, the online gambling is pretty much the same difference, so in the end, I don't see how the US government would have any legitimate claim to any cut

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          BTR1701, 21 Dec 2007 @ 8:02pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          > The government not getting its cut is a valid reason for
          > them to prohibit something.

          Not in anything resembling a free society, it isn't.

          My freedom isn't contingent on the government's ability to tax it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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