Minnesota Wants Online Bingo Blocked

In 2008 the state of Kentucky in an astounding act of hubris attempted to seize 141 domains related to online gaming. Fortunately the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that the state could not seize the domains. Foes of internet gaming have not given up by a long shot as evidenced by Minnesota’s attempt to block access to 200 websites related to gaming including internet bingo games.

Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety is attempting to pressure Internet Service Providers to block access to over 200 websites including many internet bingo sites. The department sent out notices to ISP’s Charter Communications, Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Embarq, Qwest Communications, Sprint/Nextel, Verizon Wireless, Frontier Communications, AT&T, and Wildblue Communications. The state agency is also asking the companies to block telephone numbers of the listed websites.

The list appears to have been compiled by someone with no knowledge of the internet gaming industry. The list includes online bingo websites that already go out of their way to block US players. Even though these online bingo websites already block ISP’s and do credit card issuance checks they somehow ended up on the Minnesota blacklist.

Opposition to the move has been vocal. Minnesota senator Rep. Pat Garofalo stated, “The Department of Public Safety has to have better things to do with their time than to go after a college kid in his dorm room or some guy sitting in his basement spending a couple of hours playing online poker. Demanding that a private-sector Internet service provider block access to websites is not a proper function of our state government. I’m certainly not condoning online gambling but I have serious concerns about government banning access to web sites. This is the kind of thing they do in communist China, not the United States of America.”

Many objections are based on opposition to internet censorship and accuse the Department of Public Safety of political grandstanding. Given the state of the economy it is hard to understand why any government agency would spend much needed state revenue on such a trivial matter. The matter is sure to end up in court and one can only hope the courts will uphold the rights of online bingo players and others who care about keeping the internet free of censorship.