Maryland Learns the Hard Way Not to Let Its URLs Expire

One rule of the internet is if you buy a website address (known as a URL or Domain Name) you better hold onto it forever. Because once it expires someone can, and will, scoop it up in an instant. Maryland printed a URL on their license plates for four years beginning in 2012 and now in 2023, it's a casino website. Jason Koebler at Vice has more.

In 2012, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, Maryland redesigned its standard license plate to read “MARYLAND WAR OF 1812.” The license plates, which were the default between 2012 and 2016, have the URL printed at the bottom. 

Sometime within the last year, stopped telling people about how Marylander Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the national anthem “The Star Spangled Banner” after watching British ships bombard Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812 and started instead redirecting to a site called, in which a blinking, bikini-clad woman advertises "Philippines Best Betting Site, Deposit 100 Receive 250."

Domain registration information shows that has been re-registered and transferred a handful of times within the last few years. It is not exactly clear when it stopped being a website about American history. The Internet Archive shows that as recently as December 2022, the website explained that “the young United States was embroiled in the War of 1812 and the Chesapeake Bay region felt the brunt of it.”

A spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration told Motherboard that “there are currently 798,000 active War of 1812 license plates.” 


As someone who owned and then lost a URL for a podcast I did many years ago, I can assure you the effort and cost to get those domains back is a royal pain. I was able to eventually get it, but I paid over $100 for what was normally a $12 .com address. My guess is Maryland, if they decide they want it back, will have to pay just a bit more for its address.

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