FREE PRESS -- A federal judge in New York has ruled that the government is not entitled to withhold information from Internet news sites related to sealed indictments. "Her ruling is significant for all online media outlets whether it be the Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Perez Hilton or TMZ.com," comments Jagajeet Chiba for Gambling911.com.
Costigan Media, which owns Gambling911.com, filed a Motion to Intervene and to unseal documents related to two seizure warrants claiming rights of access in the common law and First Amendment. The US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York had issued the warrants back in June, freezing nearly $40 million in funds belonging to the two largest online poker rooms, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.
In the ruling, (District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain) recognized Costigan Media's Gambling911.com as an entity that "reports on issues affecting the gambling industry, including legislation, criminal prosecutions of industry participants, and efforts to legalize various forms of gambling. Costigan Media is a source of gambling-related information and commentary for numerous news outlets."
"Gambling911.com is on a constant 24-hour news cycle as events transpire hourly within the gambling sector around the world and readers rely on us to deliver news as it happens," commented Gambling911 Publisher and founder, Christopher Costigan. "News organizations must be provided access to crucial stories affecting our readers and the industry in general."
In just the past week, news events concerning the industry included the likes of Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey proposing a bill to regulate online poker, long time Macau Gambling magnate Stanley Ho being hospitalized for reported brain surgery, the major leagues suing the state of Delaware to prevent it from offering legalized sports betting, and the murder of an online poker news portal founder in Sweden.
"Imagine if Senator Menendez had announced his new online poker regulation measure but declared all the details must remain concealed from the public or the state of Delaware began enforcing a ‘news black out'," Costigan said. "The news media would not be able to properly do its job."
Gambling911.com has long covered stories that were beneficial to law enforcement agencies in solving crimes.
"The Alameda, California Police Department called upon us to help in getting more information about poker pro Ernie Scherer III, a suspect in the murder of both his parents, including his whereabouts and whether he owed substantial gambling debts. Gambling911.com was also the first to break the story of online gambling and hotel real estate mogul Adam Anhang's murder in San Juan Puerto Rico. His estranged wife was later charged after another individual was wrongly accused. That story was eventually featured on Dateline NBC," Costigan said.
Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) Chairman Joe Brennan told Poker News Daily why Judge Swain's ruling on Tuesday was groundbreaking: "Costigan Media was afforded the same right of access that the New York Times and Washington Post sometimes receive. The Department of Justice has to report back to the Court on an ongoing basis in order to determine whether the remaining information can be released." On what information was axed from the warrants and affidavits before they were made public, Brennan speculated, "It's more than likely names of people who are cooperating witnesses or the targets of investigation."