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Attorney General John Ashcroft Summoned to Answer Online Gambling Free Speech Complaint

26 Aug 2004

Casino City, Inc. reported today that Attorney General John Ashcroft and U.S. Attorney David Dugas have been summoned by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. Earlier this month Casino City filed a complaint against the United States Department of Justice seeking a declaratory judgment that advertising online casinos and sportsbooks is constitutionally protected commercial free speech under the First Amendment of the United States.

Over the past year the Justice Department sent threatening letters to the National Association of Broadcasters and other organizations and issued subpoenas to a variety of media outlets. These actions have been widely reported and have had a chilling effect upon free speech. Popular Internet portals including Google and Yahoo have ceased accepting advertising for online casinos and sportsbooks. Many individuals 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.

Under the terms of the summons, the Department of Justice must answer the complaint within 30 days. The complaint argues the application of laws cited by the DOJ in its threatening letters is unconstitutional and that intimidation through threats of their application violates the First Amendment right to free speech. Casino City and the DOJ must file a status report by December 2nd, and a scheduling conference is set for December 16th.

The government could concede advertising online gaming sites is legal. Casino City's attorney Barry Richard says "… it's possible and hopeful, so far as my client is concerned, that the Department of Justice will say 'We didn't mean to threaten organizations that are engaged in the type of advertising that your client is,' and that would be fine with us. It would clear the air for those people who have been and would like to continue to do this."

Casino City operates www.CasinoCity.com, the most popular gaming 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 http://Online.CasinoCity.com devoted to online gaming, and www.CasinoCityTimes.com covering gaming news.

The complaint, the summons, the scheduling order, and additional information on the case can be found on the web at http://Online.CasinoCity.com/FirstAmendment/.

 
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