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Minnesota Drops Plans for Online Gambling Ban

June 8, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — An official for the state of Minnesota has announced an end to plans to block citizens’ access to online gambling sites.  

This censorship campaign, which was launched late in April, involved demands for Internet services providers (ISPs) to block access to a list of some 200 gambling websites. Some of the ISPs had planned a federal lawsuit against the state in response.

John Willems, a representative of Minnesota’s Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division, wrote a letter late last week withdrawing the state’s demands on the ISPs.

"Whether or not [the service providers] ultimately would have prevailed in court is unknown," Willems wrote in the letter, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "I believe it may be more appropriate to resolve this problem by working to create clear and effective government policies concerning regulation of gambling."

The story was very similar to the ongoing situation in Kentucky, where state officials have been trying to seize control of 141 gambling-related domain names in an effort to block citizens from gambling online. In both states, the main criticism leveled against the action is that most of the gambling websites in question are owned and operated not only in other states, but in other countries, and therefore far beyond the states' legal jurisdictions.

The ISPs that had been requested to block access to gambling sites included AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Charter Communications, Comcast Cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, Embarq and Sprint/Nextel, Qwest, Frontier Communications, and Wildblue Communications.

A suit filed in federal court last month by the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) may have been a significant factor in getting the state to rescind its plans.

It’s uncertain whether the state’s censorship plans have been stopped permanently, or only temporarily.

To read more at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, please click here.