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Google and Yahoo are bracing for more legal woes involving online gambling. While the two Internet search giants last week reached a $10.5 million settlement with the federal government to resolve claims that they promoted and made money from online gambling, a similar private-class action is due to go to trial in February in California. In that case, Google and Yahoo are accused of making hundreds of millions of dollars by allowing advertisements for illegal online gambling sites to appear on their search engine pages – in violation of California law. Cisneros v. Yahoo, No. CGC 044333518 (San Fransisco, Cty., Calif. Super Ct.) Attorneys with the Seattle-based class-action firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, which is representing plaintiffs in the California case, plan to argue for injunctive and declaratory relief at the February trial. They hope to stop Google and Yahoo from allowing gambling ads to appear on their sites in the future, and, force the companies to acknowledge that the practice is illegal. According to the Department of Justice, on Dec. 19, Google settled federal claims for $3 million, neither contesting nor admitting, that they received payments from online gambling businesses for advertisements. Yahoo settled for $7.5 million, but neither contested nor admitted to claims that they received payments from online gambling businesses for advertising. Google spokesman Matt Furman said Google voluntarily stopped running online gambling ads in 2004. “While Google did not admit any wrongdoing, the Department of Justice has advised that online gambling is illegal in the United States and ads to promote it are improper,” Furman said in a statement. “When this matter was brought to our attention by the Department of Justice we cooperated fully with its investigation, which involved many of the major search and online advertising companies.” Yahoo also has denied any wrongdoing. “Yahoo stopped accepting online gambling advertisements years ago, and after the U.S. attorney’s office contacted Yahoo with its concerns, we worked cooperatively over several years to reach this settlement,” Yahoo spokesperson Tracy Schmaler said in a statement. “As part of the agreement, Yahoo will run public service advertising on the Yahoo network about the legal dangers associated with online gambling in the United States.”

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