Posted on: June 1, 2023, 03:20h.
Last updated on: May 31, 2023, 05:05h.
In what will be one of the more bizarre stories published on Casino.org this year, officials in Maryland say a URL that’s printed on nearly 800K state-issued license plates directs visitors to an online casino platform based in the Philippines.
In anticipation of the 200-year anniversary of the War of 1812, in which Fort McHenry in Baltimore played a critical role, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) produced commemorative War of 1812 license plates. The tags were made available to Marylanders looking to honor the state’s roots, but also served as the state’s default license plate from 2012 until 2016.
The plates include the website address www.starspangled200.org. A decade ago when Maryland’s MVA was issuing the plates, the website was the online home of “Star-Spangled 200 Inc.,” a state agency formed to educate the public through celebration and commemoration of the historical events of the War of 1812.
The nonprofit organization has since dissolved and the online website was allowed to expire. Gaming interests in the Philippines apparently took notice and bought the online address, relaunching the website as an iGaming platform.
Maryland Officials Respond
State officials at the Maryland MVA say the website is no longer affiliated with the state. Casino.org visited the address and found that the URL redirects traffic to a Filipino online casino.
Reps with the MVA responded to media inquiries by saying the state doesn’t endorse the views or content on the website. The MVA said there are 798K active vehicles that have the War of 1812 plates. MVA officials added that the agency is working with its IT department to identify a possible solution.
I was never a fan of having a plate celebrating the War of 1812, but I’m even more upset now that I — and tons of other Marylanders — are driving advertisements for international online gambling,” a post on Reddit read.
The Philippines is a hub for offshore casino websites. The websites typically target gamblers living in countries where such internet betting is illegal, specifically China. Offshore websites operating out of the Philippines have also been known to market to US residents.
Maryland’s MVA phased out the War of 1812 plates in September 2016 with the state’s current plates that feature the Maryland flag.
According to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, a digital archive of the world wide web, the website in question was likely only recently acquired by the Filipino-based iGaming entity.
In 2011, the website directed to the official online home of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission. An archive search for 2020 showed that the website was in the federal government’s hands, as the site directed to the National Parks Service’s Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail.
Now, the website tries to lure visitors into signing up with a Philippines online casino website. Online gambling remains prohibited in Maryland, but people aged 21 and older inside the state can place a legal sports bet online.