Tuesday, May 05, 2009

State plays its hand in targeting online gambling websites, by Paul Walsh - Star Tribune - 1st May 2009

Users may be finding ways around Minnesota's attempt to cut off access to the 200 Internet game sites.

The state of Minnesota on Friday released the names of 200 online gambling websites it is trying to prevent Minnesotans from using, warning that Internet wagering is illegal.

The specific sites being targeted will be of interest to Minnesotans who use them and are concerned that any balances they have with those operations could be lost if the state succeeds in blocking access.

Fulltime online poker player and instructor Chris Wallace of St. Paul scoffed at the list built by the state, however.

"I'm certain they didn't do a whole lot of research," Wallace said. "The largest poker site in the world [Poker Stars] is not listed."

Wallace also said he's confident that he won't lose any money because of the state's block. "I do have money in many of these sites," he said. "The worst is that I will drive over to Wisconsin and request a cashout."

He said he has already shifted his computer to a server in the Cayman Islands and was back on his favorite site within 20 minutes at no expense, thereby getting around any block that Minnesota wants put in place.

On Wednesday, a division of the state Department of Public Safety that enforces gambling and alcohol laws said it has instructed 11 national and regional telephone and Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access by all Minnesota-based computers to the websites on the list.

Minnesota says all online gambling within its borders is illegal, even if the games are hosted outside the United States.

Operators of these types of sites are spread around the world, most commonly in the United Kingdom and the Caribbean, as some of their names suggest: Casino Euro, English Harbour and Virgin Games, among others.

Written notices from the division were served Monday to AT&T Internet Services, Charter Communications, Comcast Cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, Embarq and Sprint/Nextel, Frontier Communications, Qwest, Verizon Wireless and Wildblue Communications. (Credit: Star Tribune)

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