PRWeb Buckles Under Washington Pressure
April 20, 2009
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PRWeb is a leader in online news and press release distribution. It claims that more than 40,000 organizations use its services in order to “increase the visibility of their news, improve their search engine rankings and drive traffic to their Websites.” Among these organizations are a large number of online gambling organizations that provide updates of their products and services through PRWeb. These include online gambling giants like Ultimate Bet, Paddy Power and Full Tilt.
Everything seemed well till last week, when without warning PRWeb refused to accept press releases that had anything to do with online gambling. PRWeb is owned by Vocus and as per information available the instructions for not accepting press releases from online gambling organizations have come from the management of Vocus. Vocus salesman Rod Harris confirmed this surprise decision. He said, “As far as my level, one day we’re issuing them. Then we get this e-mail. I myself know an online gambling client I was hoping to sign-up.” Harris added that there were no plans to reverse this decision in the foreseeable future. He also pointed out that this policy that was now being applied in the United States was also being practiced by the company’s sister site in the United Kingdom.
The grapevine has a different story to tell. PRWeb is based in Ferndale in Washington. Washington has the toughest anti-gambling stance in the United States. In Washington all online gambling except for online horse-race wagering is a Class C felony. It is being said that the state government has turned the screws on PRWeb forcing it to decline online gambling content. However this could not be substantiated. Neither PRWeb nor Vocus are responding to e-mails in this connection.
As of now, there does not seem to be any uproar about this policy change either by the online gambling fraternity or in other media forums. Usually the online gambling fraternity is quick to react to such issues and this one patently violates the principle of free speech and is without any legal justification. Meanwhile the earlier releases on online gambling can still be read at PRWeb. The last release dates April 14 and is from CelebPoker. According to PRWeb the releases remain online until deleted by a user.
Vocus is a publicly held company, based in Lanham in Maryland, that is traded on NASDAQ. It distributes press releases over the Internet via RSS. Its partners include Yahoo! News, Google News, Lycos News, Topix.net, Excite News and eMediaWire. Vocus acquired the privately held PRWeb in August 2006.