Two California gamblers who sued the Google and Yahoo search engines in 2004 for carrying gambling ads after they lost $100 000 at the tables were defeated in a California court last week.
The plaintiffs claimed that online gambling in California is illegal, making the practice of advertising online gambling by the search engines illegal too.
California Superior Court Judge, Richard Kramer, dismissed the cases and has granted immunity from liability based on the federal Communications Decency Act (CDA) to search engines. Section 230 of the CDA says that operators of Internet services may not to be held liable for the words of third parties who use their services.
Judge Kramer found that, because Google and Yahoo had already stopped accepting gambling ads in the U.S., there was no case. Microsoft, Google and Yahoo subsequently paid $31.5 million to settle with the Justice Department for their promotion of gambling sites within the U.S. The CDA did not protect them in that case because the law contains an exception for certain federal criminal cases.
A notable feature of the settlement was that the search engines did not admit to any wrongdoing.