No Settlement Yet in Minnesota Blocking Battle

5 June 2009
Despite reports to the contrary, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety confirmed Friday morning that it has not abandoned efforts to block state residents from accessing nearly 200 Internet gambling Web sites.

In a press release Thursday, the Poker Players Alliance, a million-member player advocacy group, said enforcement action against 11 United States Internet service providers had been dropped.

Those I.S.P.s -- which include Charter Communications, AT&T and Sprint -- were ordered in April to enact the blocking measures.

The alliance quoted Representative Pat Garofalo, a Minnesota lawmaker who introduced legislation last month to overturn the department's orders, as saying those orders had been withdrawn.

"In the spirit of cooperation and in recognition of the rescission of these notices, I am more than happy to withdraw my bill and in its place sponsor a discussion aimed at establishing a framework for regulating and licensing the online gaming industry," Mr. Garofalo said.

But Dennis Smith, a spokesman for the public safety department, said the blocking orders stand and that a settlement agreement between the government and the I.S.P.s has not been reached.

"Nothing definitive yet on our end," he told IGamingNews by telephone.

Mr. Smith's comments were echoed Friday by the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association, an industry trade group that's suing the public safety department in Federal District Court.

"While Imega, the Minnesota attorney-general’s office and the Department of Public Safety have been involved with efforts to reach a settlement, as of today no final agreement has been reached," the group said in a prepared statement.

Spokespersons for the Poker Players Alliance and Imega did not immediately return phone calls and e-mails.

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