Ontario, New York cracking down on gambling ads

Governments continue to find ways to further shut down online gambling as both Ontario and New York work to cut down on online gambling advertising in their regions.

A bill was introduced in the Ontario provincial government Oct. 19 that could tighten the province's laws against online gambling advertising. There is a loophole in the current law banning online gambling advertising that lets sites indirectly advertise through play-for-free sites.

Bill 152, which includes changes to several laws, includes a change to the Internet gambling portion of the 2002 Consumer Protection Act, closing that loophole so that both direct and indirect advertising will be illegal.

Questions about the legality of online gambling ads have also arisen in the state of New York now that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) has been passed. Despite gaming and bookmaking already being illegal in the state, billboards, radio commercials, and other means of advertising abound in the state for Web casinos, poker sites, and more, and authorities are taking a closer look at the laws pertaining to them.

According to Paul Larrabee, a spokesman for N.Y. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, because gaming and bookmaking are illegal in the state, marketing those activities to a New York resident would also be in violation of the law.

Many companies believe they are within the law because the advertisements they're accepting are from sites that don't process real-money bets. For example, ESPN has advertisements for online poker sites when they broadcast the World Series of Poker, but the sites being advertised are .net, educational, play-for-free sites.

The Department of Justice has been warning publishers and broadcasters since 2003 that advertising gambling sites could be prosecuted for aiding and abetting a crime. But, the actual prosecution of advertisers for promoting gambling are rare.

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