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Casino City Files Suit Against U.S. Department of Justice to Establish its First Amendment Right to Advertise Online Casinos and Sportsbooks

9 August 2004

BATON ROUGE, Lousiana -- August 9, 2004 - Casino City, Inc. today filed a complaint against the U.S. Department of Justice in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that advertising online casinos and sportsbooks is constitutionally protected commercial free speech under the First Amendment of the United States.

In June of 2003 the Department of Justice sent letters to a variety of organizations including the National Association of Broadcasters, the Magazine Publishers of America, the Independent Press Association, and the National Newspaper Association. The letters requested that the organizations warn their members that individuals accepting such advertisements might face prosecution.

Several months later the Justice Department issued subpoenas to a variety of media outlets, Internet portals, public relations firms, and other companies seeking detailed information on the purchase and placement of online casino and sportsbook advertisements.

The actions of the Department of Justice have been widely reported in the news and have had a chilling effect upon free speech. Popular Internet portals including Google and Yahoo have recently ceased accepting advertising for online casinos and sportsbooks. Many individuals in the online gambling industry view the actions of the DOJ as a form of blackmail based on the belief of a few government officials rather than established legal principles.

There have been factions within the government that have tried unsuccessfully to explicitly outlaw online gaming by American citizens for years. In early 2000, Michael Corfman, President and CEO of Casino City, wrote to his congressman, Barney Frank to ask his opinion of prohibiting online gaming. Barney Frank responded "…I would have hoped that the American experience with alcohol in the '20s and '30s would have made my colleagues far more skeptical of new forms of prohibition than they have been. I agree with you that this legislation violates the principle of leaving the Internet unregulated, and violates as well the privacy of millions of Americans. While I do not myself gamble, I think it is a choice that adults should be able to make for themselves, and I do not support restrictions of this sort, especially when it involves a very intrusive form of regulation of the Internet…"

Casino City's parent corporation has been involved in the gaming industry for years. It created the original gaming portal site, https://www.casinocity.com in 1995. Today the Casino City website is operated by Casino City, Inc., and is now the most popular such site on the web covering online casinos and sportsbooks, land-based casinos, gaming strategy, and news. It is part of a network of websites including https://online.casinocity.com devoted to online gaming, and https://www.casinocitytimes.com covering gaming news and offering visitors thousands of articles on gaming strategy.

When the Casino City website was first launched, there were no online casinos, and online advertising was virtually nonexistent. Today, however, I-gaming advertisements form an important part of Casino City's revenue. Company CEO, Michael Corfman, says "The public has the right to see the wealth of information we provide on casinos and sportsbooks, and we have the First Amendment right to advertise online gaming on the web to support its free publication."

The actions of the department of Justice have definitely had an impact on Casino City notes Corfman. "Our parent corporation had partnership plans with A&E Television Networks to promote the Breaking Vegas documentary and associated sweepstakes. Casino City was to be featured on The History Channel website and in 30 national television spots, but they cancelled the agreement after the promotion had already begun. We were told by their marketing agents that A&E felt there was an unacceptable risk the network would be viewed as aiding and abetting online gaming since it's only two clicks from our home page to an online gaming site. When you have an FCC license that must be protected to stay in business, you just can't afford to take chances with the Department of Justice…More recently, a major Las Vegas casino wanted to work with our parent corporation on a promotion, but their lawyers nixed the arrangement because of our involvement with online gaming."

Casino City believes the actions taken by the Department of Justice are wrong, and that they threaten our freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment of the United States constitution. We also believe that matters of law such as this are properly decided by the courts, and not by government administrators interpreting laws in a way that many experts claim is flawed. Consequently, we have today asked the courts to determine our rights, and those of others similarly situated, under the United States Constitution.

Successfully fighting for our First Amendment rights is a complex challenge, and one that requires a law firm and attorneys that understand the full spectrum of issues involved. Considerations range from overarching legal principles to subtle nuances in the procedures that must be followed. We feel confident bringing a First Amendment complaint against the Department of Justice because we are working with an absolutely superb legal team. We are represented by Barry Richard, Patrick O'Brien, and Laureen Galeoto of the law firm Greenberg Traurig.

Barry Richards, our lead litigator, is widely respected for his representation of President George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election litigation in which he managed 46 lawsuits on the President's behalf. Dan Rather called his nationally televised argument before the Florida Supreme Court "brilliant." As a leading constitutional lawyer Barry has successfully argued many significant cases over the past two decades including three major cases before the United States Supreme Court. He was named a National Law Journal Lawyer of the Year in 2001. Barry's stature among his fellow attorneys is reflected in his selection as a Fellow in both the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. When Barry speaks, we know the judge hearing our case will listen.

Patrick O'Brien spent 25 years as a Special Agent with the U.S. Customs Service combating money laundering, drug smuggling, and illegal imports before joining Greenberg Traurig where he has become a recognized expert in Internet gaming and offshore banking law. Pat advises and represents major sportsbook and casino operators, transaction processors, media outlets, and Internet portals. He has represented three of the original online gaming defendants in the 1998 New York indictments, as well as targets and witnesses in several federal investigations. Pat's solid understanding of online gaming law and his pragmatic view of the underlying issues were instrumental factors in our decision to bring this action through his firm.

The complete complaint filed by Casino City and additional information on the case can be found on the web at https://online.casinocity.com/FirstAmendment/.

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Casino City Files Suit Against U.S. Department of Justice to Establish its First Amendment Right to Advertise Online Casinos and Sportsbooks is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.