Hundreds of thousands of drivers in Maryland bear registration plates with a link to what seems to be a site commemorating the War of 1812. However, locals found out that the link is related to an offshore casino.
About 15% of all registered vehicles (around 798,000) in the state bear plates that commemorate the war. In addition to mentioning the occasion and sporting an American flag and some fireworks, these license plates also have a link to a site under the www.starspangled200.org URL.
Star Spangled 200 used to be the site of a non-profit organization founded in 2007. However, instead of opening a website related to the War of 1812, following the link redirects users to www.globeinternational.info, a Philippine online gambling site.
Instead of information about the War of 1812 and commemorative materials, the site offers a variety of casino games and betting market, including virtual cockfighting offerings.
Many people thought that there could have been some typo in the URL. However, it turns out that this is not the case.
According to The Washington Post, it is not clear when this redirect happened. The Philippines-based casino is owned by a private firm that has so far remained silent despite the effort of Maryland officials to contact the owners.
At the same time, authorities found it impossible to reach Star Spangled 200. Sandy Hillman Communications, a former partner of the non-profit organization claims that it had been disbanded. Its spokesperson, Lauren Walbert, said that she doesn’t know who is maintaining the actual site now.
The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) addressed the matter, stating that it has never owned or maintained the URL in question. The association also emphasized that it does not endorse the gambling website in any capacity.
Endorse or not, the MVA now has to decide what to do next. While the agency has refrained from announcing its plans, it said that it is considering its options. Paul J. Wiedefeld, Maryland’s Transportation Secretary is also yet to comment on his plans.
Some have suggested that the MVA might consider changing the plates with new ones or buying the URL. However, both options are likely to be pricy. In any case, the Maryland authorities will likely have to do something, considering the plates’ ties to an unlicensed gambling website.