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VERIFY | Yes, old Maryland license plates have a URL that linked to a website about gambling in the Philippines

The plates were designed to honor the bicentennials of the War of 1812 and the Star Spangled Banner, but a web address at the bottom linked to an unintended site.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Update (June 9, 2023): StarSpangled200.org no longer links to a Philippine website about gambling. A spokesperson for the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration said the agency and the state's Department of Information contracted with a domain broker and recovered the URL earlier this week. MVA will maintain the URL going forward and have it redirect visitors to its homepage.

The original story as published appears below. 

People are talking about a license plate the state of Maryland has not issued in several years. It was designed to celebrate the state's history, but a viral video on TikTok says it now inadvertently celebrates gambling.


Does the URL on the bottom of many Maryland license plates send people to a Philippine website about gambling?




This is true.

Yes, the URL on the bottom of some Maryland license plates links to a Philippine website about gambling.


The website on the bottom of Maryland's former license plate sends people to a website that has nothing to do with the state's history.

Maryland put considerable resources into the bicentennial celebrations of the War of 1812 and the Star Spangled Banner. In 2010, it changed its primary license plate, including the URL StarSpangled200.org at the bottom.

At the time, that site belonged to a nonprofit named Star-Spangled 200, Inc., which partnered with the state’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission to produce large celebrations in 2012 and 2014.

According to the Maryland State Archives, the commission's authorization expired in June, 2015. The state launched a new primary license plate in 2016, which is still in use today, that replaced the War of 1812 version.

Based on a search of the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, the URL has linked to at least three different pages related to the Star Spangled Banner Trail since 2015, including pages belonging to the Maryland Office of Tourism and the National Park Service.

But at some point between July and December of 2022, it began redirecting visitors to a site called FAFA855, which has information about gambling and online casinos in the Philippines.

The Maryland Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Administration reports that there are 798,000 active War of 1812 license plates on the road. A spokesperson for the agency told WUSA9 in a statement, "The MVA does not endorse the views or content on the current website using that URL and is working with the agency’s IT department to identify options to resolve the current issue."

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