US steps up war against internet gambling – SA take note
In a case which could have significant repercussions for a number of major SA web sites and media companies, a class action has been brought against the major internet search engines which currently advertise illegal Internet gambling in California. The action, brought by the US Justice Department “on behalf of the Californian general public”, seeks to apply charges of aiding and abetting against companies involved in advertising legal offshore gambling sites.
The action has provoked a swift response from a US media company which derives significant revenue from the sale on interactive gambling advertising. Casino City Inc. has launched proceedings for a judgement declaring that Department of Justice action violates the First Amendment right to free speech.
Internet gambling is generally illegal in the United States, although the prohibition on US citizens gambling online using offshore casino sites is almost impossible to enforce. The US government has previously focused on inhibiting the use of credit cards in paying for online gambling services. They have placed significant pressure on the card issuing companies and banks to stop accepting internet gambling transactions and sought to introduce new law prohibiting the use of credit cards or other electronic payment methods in connection with internet gambling.
The current action should be see in this context, and many major search engines have already stopped accepting interactive gambling advertisements.
The new SA Gambling Act, scheduled for finalization later this year, is likely to include a ban on interactive gambling (to the extent that it is not banned already) as well as a ban on advertising for interactive gambling. The US matter may well give an early indication of the constitutionality of at least the latter ban.
A copy of the DoJ action can be found at http://www.techfirm.com/yahoocomplaint.pdf
Additional information and the Casino City action can be found at http://Online.CasinoCity.com/FirstAmendment
25 Aug 2004
This article is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute professional advice relating to specific instances. Should you wish to place any reliance on the information presented in this article we strongly advise that you consult your legal advisor or the Electronic Law Consultancy - firstname.lastname@example.org