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How the Libya Crisis Could Affect Online Gambling Sector, Twitter Accounts: Think .LY

Written by:
Alejandro Botticelli
Published on:
Feb/23/2011
Gaddafi .ly

The crisis in Libya may have serious ramifications for the online gambling sector in ways most people could not have imagined.

Say what?  Upheaval in Libya may have a chilling effect on the world of poker, online gambling?  In what way you may ask?

Well, it boils down to Twitter and Facebook once again – but here we have an entirely different angle to consider.  It’s all about content management that is becoming the rage, especially among the poker playing community, and big industry news sites the likes of Gambling911.com.

Poker players Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke have between them hundreds of thousands of followers.

But those abbreviated links (URLs) that Twitter uses to convert auto-synced end in .ly (.LY).  That is an abbreviation for Libya and should that nation’s strong man, Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, or anyone else in his regime for that matter, decide to shut down the Internet, those links may no longer work.

“For Gambling911.com the links appear automatically on Twitter whenever an article is published on the main site or our Facebook page,” explains Payton O’Brien, Senior Editor of the Gambling911.com website.  “Direct entries to the Gambling911.com Twitter page would not be impacted but many of our readers, especially those on mobile devices, rely on the auto-synced Twitter feed.”

A review of poker player Twitter accounts shows that Annie Duke in particular tends to use the auto-synced .ly feature.

Jerry Brito, a policy wonk and web developer based in Washington, D.C., first reported on the concerns over Twitter .ly URLs over at Techland.com. 

First, the good news:  Most of the servers that resolve .ly URLs are located outside of Libya.  Administrators are likely to take the necessary steps in preventing the domains from shutting down.   

"For .ly domains to be unresolvable the five .ly root servers that are authoritative *all* have to be offline, or responding with empty responses," said bit.ly CEO John Borthwick in an interview with Mr. Brito. "Of the five root nameservers for the .ly TLD: two are based in Oregon, one is in the Netherlands and two are in Libya."

But as Brito points out, the bigger fear will be long term, assuming Gaddafi’s regime falls quickly.  Who will take charge of the troubled nation and what impact will a power vacuum have?

Country codes, unlike the .com and .net extensions, are mostly controlled by local governments.   As Brito notes, last year, the Libyan government seized the domain name vb.ly which was a link shortening service run by sex blogger Violet Blue.

While the private organizations that run generic top-level domains respect freedom of speech, state-controlled top-level domains often impose restrictions, Brito points out.

And for the gambling sector in particular, there is a need to pay special attention.

Libyan registry policy prohibits domains related to the gambling and lottery industry. 

Brito suggests that a new government could place even more stringent restrictions on the .ly domain, effectively shutting down any .ly extensions related to gambling and poker.

“It would result in more of an inconvenience for content generators like Gambling911.com,” explains O’Brien.  “But for sites that employ the .ly extension as their primary URL – Brito points to Graphic.ly and Letter.ly – the end result could prove disastrous.”

- Alejandro Botticelli, Gambling911.com

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