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Search Engine Advertisement Case In California Proceeds to Next Phase

10 June 2005

A court in San Francisco, California has denied Google, Yahoo! and 11 other search engines a motion to dismiss a class action suit that first surfaced in August 2004. The two plaintiffs in the case claim that they used illegal sponsored ads on the search engine websites to find illegal online casinos to which they then lost thousands of dollars. Ira Rothken, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, says that the case will now proceed with the discovery process and eventually go to trial unless a settlement is reached.

Defendants Yahoo!, Google, Overture, Ask Jeeves, Looksmart, AltaVista, Lycos, JupiterMedia, CNET, FindWhat.com, Kanoodle.com, Business.com and Sex.com are accused of knowingly accepting paid advertisements from illegal online gambling operations. The plaintiffs, Mario Cisneros and Michael Voight, claim that the advertisements on these sites led them to access the illegal online casinos where they lost money.

Rothken told AVNOnline.com, "Large American companies at least have the appearance of aiding and abetting Internet gambling, and Internet gambling is unlawful in California. Internet gambling is currently located in jurisdictions that are hostile to American law. This is another method for those that have been impacted by Internet gambling to be able to do something about it, to hold these search engines responsible by having the courts make them stop it."

The plaintiffs have filed the case as a class action suit, meaning that in a sense they actually represent the people of California. As restitution, the plaintiffs seek all revenue received by the search engines from online gambling sites. If Rothken's firm is successful the court may declare the named plaintiffs in the case as beneficiaries of any financial remuneration or it may award the money to charity.

Although two of the defendants-- Yahoo! and Google-- had instituted a policy of no longer accepting advertisements for Internet gambling three months before the suit was filed, the other parties did not cease displaying advertisements until after Rothken's firm filed a preliminary injunction. For this reason Rothken says the plaintiffs have already been successful.

Rothken told IGN that besides representing his clients, a primary motivation for his filing of this case is to maintain the social protection of California's citizens. He explained that while traditional forms of gambling licensed by state governments benefit the people of the state by providing tax revenue, Internet gambling funnels all of its tax revenue to foreign governments. States therefore suffer the social costs of addiction but receive no tax benefits from Internet gambling.

This case is not the first time that Rothken has represented gamblers in California. In the late 1990s Rothken argued on behalf of Cynthia Haines that her gambling debts to Providian National Bank, Visa and MasterCard were not enforceable because online gambling is not legal in California. Part of the Haines case's settlement included forcing the defendants to display notices to consumers about gambling debts.

In a similar case, Rothken defended Fred Marino by claiming that the online gambling debt Marino acquired on his American Express and Discover cards were not enforceable. The companies settled out of court and agreed to cease processing Internet gambling transactions.

Search Engine Advertisement Case In California Proceeds to Next Phase is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Bradley Vallerius

Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials.

Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Websites:

www.FortheBettorGood.com
Bradley Vallerius
Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials.

Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Websites:

www.FortheBettorGood.com