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Online Ad Firms Settle Gambling Claims

Online advertising powerhouses Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo have agreed to a $31.5 million settlement that resolves allegations against the companies that they received money for running online ads promoting illegal online gambling.

The case involves online ads running all the way back to 1997, and in many cases the companies stopped accepting the ads years ago, but in some instances the gambling promotion ads were running this year. Online gambling is illegal, and the Justice Department sued the companies for receiving money for running advertisements promoting illegal gambling and online betting operations.

Under the settlement, the companies will pay some money to the Federal government as a penalty, but also contribute millions of dollars to public service organizations and to advertisements intended to dissuade teenagers and young adults from online gambling.

Microsoft will pay $4.5 million to the U.S. government but also contribute $7.5 million to the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children and pony up another $9 million for public service advertising. A Microsoft spokesperson said the company stopped accepting the ads four years ago.

Yahoo will pay a total of $7.5 million, with $3 million going to the U.S. government and $4.5 million going towards public service advertising.

Google will pay a total of $3 million, and also said it stopped accepting the advertisements several years ago.