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Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! settle un-American activity claims

$31m appeases gambler-hating government

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Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have spilled a total of $31.5m to settle claims they promoted one of the most un-American of activities: online gambling.

Today, the US attorney for the eastern district of Missouri - that's St. Louis country - announced that the tech-happy trio agreed to resolve charges that they took money from online-gambling houses to advertise online-gambling services that facilitate real, live online gambling.

Microsoft is the biggest loser, forking over a cool $21m. $4.5m goes to the US government. $7.5m goes to the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC). And $9m will back an internet-based public service ad campaign that aims to tell youngsters that online gambling is completely illegal in the land of the free.

Meanwhile, Yahoo!'s settlement totals $7.5m ($3m to the government and $4.5m for public service ads), and Google will turn over $3m.

"These sums add to the over $40 million in forfeitures and back taxes this office has already recovered in recent years from operators of these remote-control illegal gambling enterprises,” read a canned statement from US attorney Catherine Hanaway. “Honest taxpayers and gambling industry personnel who do follow the law suffer from those who promote illegal online behavior.”

According to Hanaway's office, the settlements "involve corporate conduct the government found in violation of the Federal Wire Wager Act, federal wagering excise tax laws and various states’ statutes and municipal laws prohibiting gambling." But officially, the three web giants neither contest or admit the charges against them. ®

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