6/24/10 – Online gambling companies using the .net advertising strategy will be heartened by a New Zealand court’s ruling that such advertising is not an inducement to gamble, and that live poker tournaments are a form of competition and therefore not illegal in a gambling sense.
Dot net advertising involves promoting websites that do not in themselves provide gambling, although they may promote the brands of operators.
The case before Justice David J Harvey was brought by the New Zealand government’s Department of Internal Affairs, which complained that a company titled TVWorks, the owner of television stations TV3 and C4, had carried .net play-for-free advertising for Pokerstars, a major provider of gambling services, reports Poker News this week.
The government alleged that this promoted the activities of an overseas gambling operator or induced New Zealanders to gamble on offshore sites.
The court’s findings were that:
* The Pokerstars.net website is not promotion of a gambling operator, promotion of gambling overseas, or likely to induce New Zealanders to gamble overseas.
* The Pokerstars.net website is not a gambling website nor is it synonymous with Pokerstars.com.
* The Asia Pacific Poker Tour is not "gambling" as defined by the legalization because it is a competition, with an entry fee, which has prize money at the end of it (as opposed to the payment of consideration, based on the outcome of the game).
Dismissing the prosecution’s argument on .net advertising in the case, Justice Harvey noted:
“Firstly, the nature of the material in the advertisements made it clear that what was being advertised was free websites that do not involve gambling.
“Secondly, the .com website is not mentioned at any time. Unless the user knew of the existence of the .com website, no association could be made between PokerStars and that particular website.
“A third reason for rejecting the suggestion that .net and .com sites involve a distinction without a difference lies in the very internet itself….the navigational realties of the internet mean that there is a very significant difference between web addresses of any nature, be they .net .com and .org even although they may be associated with a similar domain name.”.
Poker News reports that in reaching his conclusion Justice Harvey relied heavily upon the expert industry evidence presented by Damon Rasheed of PokerNews and iBus Media Consultancy and Professor Roger Marshall, who provided expert evidence on the advertisements themselves.
Damon Rasheed said upon hearing the Court’s decision: “Justice Harvey’s ruling was a common sense result for the industry that will have widespread implications especially for those jurisdictions with similar legalization, such as Australia and the US, were the distinction between .net advertising and gambling has yet to be the subject of legal challenge”.