First They Came for the Online Casino Ads…


The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports on the Justice Dept.'s latest initiative to keep America safe and sound–not from terrorism, but from online gambling:

The U.S. Department of Justice has been issuing subpoenas in Las Vegas and nationwide to intimidate and discourage publishers and broadcasters from accepting advertising for online gaming sites, media and legal officials said Monday.

"It's going to set substantial and important media law. It's going to say the media is responsible for the legality of the activities they advertise in their media," said Tony Cabot, a partner in the law firm Lionel, Sawyer & Collins.

Three waves of subpoenas were served on publishers and broadcasters in Las Vegas and nationwide between September and the end of December, demanding all records involving ads by Internet gaming establishments since 1997, sources said.

It would [be] the first effort in the United States to prosecute criminally any media based on the content of its advertising, according to Cabot, chairman of the gaming practice group at Lionel Sawyer.

"There've been no prosecutions based on advertising aiding and abetting an unlawful transaction based on the content of the advertising," he said.

I. Nelson Rose, gaming law expert at Whittier Law School in Los Angeles, said the subpoenas were served on "every publisher, TV station, radio station, and every network that ever took an ad for Internet gambling."

He said the federal government has "limitless resources" and has evidently been monitoring broadcast and print media and keeping lists of all outlets that carried advertisements for online gambling sites.

"Newspapers and magazines, however, are in different situations from broadcasters because publishers don't have licenses to protect. If this goes to the FCC, broadcasters will independently stop taking advertising because their regulators have the death penalty. It seems to be working with radio stations," Rose said.

Your tax dollars at work. Why is this a priority?

Interestingly, the legal status of online gambling is not exactly clear. The Justice Dept. figures it is banned by laws prohibiting the use of a "wire connection facility" bet across state lines.

Reason weighed in on Internet gambling back when the tech bubble was still being viewed as something other than a bubble. Go here to read all about it–and to find out how dogs coped with the online gambling craze.