In America, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google have agreed to pay $31.5 million to settle a Government probe into their roles in promoting online gambling dating back a decade.

The settlements mark the latest development in a US crackdown on online gambling that also included the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

According to the United States Department of Justice, Microsoft's settlement totals $21 million, including $4.5 million to the Government and a $7.5 million contribution to the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Microsoft also agreed to fund a nine million dollar advertising campaign aimed at showing young web users that online gambling is illegal under US law.

Google agreed to pay three million dollars to settle similar charges while Yahoo's bill came to $7.5 million in addition to a clause to fund an online public service campaign discouraging online gambling.

‘These sums add to the over $40 million in forfeitures and back taxes this office has already recovered in recent years from operators of these remote-control illegal gambling enterprises,’ said Catherine Hanaway from the Department of Justice.

‘Honest taxpayers and gambling industry personnel who do follow the law suffer from those who promote illegal online behaviour.’

None of the companies admitted wrongdoing in settling allegations that they received payments from online gambling businesses for advertising. The three could have been prosecuted under the Federal Wire Wager Act, Federal wagering excise tax laws and various state statutes and municipal laws prohibiting gambling had they not settled.

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