Florida AG Warns Media To Drop Offshore Gambling Sites Advertisements

18 November 1999
Some sites will find it hard to place advertising in Florida. Gary Betz, a member of the Florida Attorney General's office headed by Bob Butterworth (longtime gambling foe), has contacted a number of Florida publications and media warning them to cease and desist accepting advertisements from offshore gaming sites or face potential criminal and civil litigation. He also contends that their ongoing investigation shows the likelihood of ties between gambling sites and organized crimes. Unfortunately, he wouldn't say who among the gaming industry was under scrutiny for the alleged ties.

Further, Betz also told IGN that not all offshore gambling sites are really located outside the U.S., citing one company, World Wide Cash Card, that allegedly operated from Ohio. The company was a Western Union Quick Pay Outlet, and was probably shut down by Western Union following its investigation, said Rick Schiffer, one of Betz's staff members.

IGN spoke with Colleen Emigh, Vice President of First Data Corp. (the parent corporation of Western Union). She said, "We work on an ongoing basis with the Attorney General's office to identify questionable commercial accounts. If it's determined that they're involved in such activities, they're cut off from access to offshore sites."

Among the media contacted so far are Las Vegas Sporting News, Buccaneer Magazine and their web site at bucmag.com, Sunshine Network and former NFL football star Jim McMahon, who appeared in magazine advertisements for English Sports Betting. According to Betz, most media contacted have dropped gambling advertisements, but many more will be contacted in the future.

Betz has also contacted Visa, Mastercard, Traveler's Express and Western Union asking that they keep working to curtail the use of their services transmitting gambling money out of the U.S. It is against Florida laws to place sports wagers over the phone or the Internet, as is the transfer of gambling funds via credit card or wire transfer. So far, the credit card companies have not responded to Betz.

The Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth has worked a long time to squash Internet gaming activities. In late 1997, he convinced Western Union to stop wiring funds to offshore gaming facilities. He promised at that time to target media accepting advertising, and was working to prevent players from sending payment to such sites.

Betz's office provided a list of people contacted with Cease and Desist Letters and a sample copy of one such letter.