Late last week, TMZ reported that the estate of Michael Jackson was not happy over an online casino being run on MichaelJacksonCasino.com. Apparently someone thinks it’s a good idea to run a casino, sportsbook, and poker room using Michael Jackson’s likeness allegedly without the permission of Michael Jackson’s Estate (this is according to the Estate).
The domain name MichaelJacksonCasino.com has been registered at Godaddy since May of 2005 (on its current registration), and the listed registrant seems to be a company called Corp. Hostarica, with a Miami post office box. Hostarica appears to be an offshore hosting company from Costa Rica, according to its website.
Early this morning, TMZ followed up their original article with another report that Godaddy is being sued for $100,000,000 by the man who claims to own copyrights to some of the photographs that are used on the MichaelJacksonCasino.com website. According to the article, a federal lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles on Monday August 2, and Mann hopes the lawsuit will cause Godaddy to reveal the name of the actual owner of the domain name.
According to results from the Wayback Machine on Archive.org, it looks like there has been a casino on MichaelJacksonCasino.com since 2006. Michael Jackson was still alive at that point, and the welcome message on the site said,
“The King of Pop is proud to bring you the most exciting Vegas style online gaming experience on the Net! Along with implementing the most advanced casino software in the industry, Michael Jackson Casino gives you 24-hr. customer support and guarantees you the highest level of security to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of your account. All you have to worry about is winning!”
Additionally, the Wayback Machine shows that the domain name was initially registered as far back as 2002, although the current registration began in 2005. It’s likely that the domain owner dropped this domain name and it expired sometime between 2003 and 2005. Interestingly, in 2003 (which is before the current domain registration), there was a page that said, “Visit our Internet Casinos” with a long list of other casino websites with generic domain names listed.
I don’t know how much exposure Godaddy would have in a case like this, where they acted as the registrar. To me, it looks like Godaddy is not actually hosting the website, as the DNS show nx0.dnscrservices.info and nx1.dnscrservices.info, which are Hostarica’s servers, and they are probably located outside of the US due to US gaming laws.
Thanks to Josh Pelissero for the tip.