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A great deal of money is falling through the cracks, and the ox being gored is city government. A lawsuit filed by Findlay, Ohio in 2005 and scheduled for trial next year maintains that online reservation sites owed more than $5 million to local governments across the state. Some sources say that the figure is closer to $9 million at this point. About a dozen Ohio cities have joined the suit. Currently, online hotel bookings approximate 10 percent of total reservations, and the volume is growing.
As Deanne Morton points out, travel sites assert that they are merely intermediaries - not agents of hotels or guests who place their reservations. Art Sackler, executive director of the Interactive Travel Services Association claims that cities filing suits against online reservation sites are essentially vacuous, with no foundation in fact or in law.