The online gambling industry will have to wait a little longer to hear whether Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate confirms the confiscation of some 141 online gambling domains seized earlier this week by Kentucky state officials
Associated Press reports that the forfeiture hearing, scheduled for Thursday 25 September has now been postponed to 3.30pm ET on Friday 26 September, ET, according to Jennifer Brislin, the Communications Director for the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet….and there will be some heavyweight legal eagles attending, sent in by interested parties on both sides of the argument that online gambling domains should be liable for confiscation by the state. Among those sending a legal team will be iMEGA, a pressure group fighting to protect the freedom of the Internet.
The list of sites targeted was developed by attorneys working for the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and are allegedly sites where Kentucky residents were able to place bets, Brislin revealed, adding that the targeted domains are held by a mix of domestic and international registrars.
Although the state of Kentucky does not have Internet gambling-specific laws, it does have laws that prohibit possession and use of gambling devices, said Brislin. For the purposes of the current action, domain names are considered gambling devices, she said.
“Our end game is to stop that activity within Kentucky,” Brislin said. “We have no interest to shut it down elsewhere in the country or worldwide. The lawsuit asks for these [Internet gambling sites] to deny access to Kentucky residents and to pay for prior damages.”
Buffalo State University business law professor Joe Kelly, a respected commentator on legal issues affecting the online gambling industry, says that the Kentucky case is unlikely hold up under federal scrutiny.
“This could very well violate the Commerce Clause. If 50 states could do this sort of thing, there would be a negative impact. I can’t predict what that Kentucky judge will do, but if someone appeals it to a federal judge, the order won’t hold up.”
Governor Steve Beshear, the man behind the seizure of domains action, is known as a strong supporter of land gambling activities in his state, which is particularly famous for its horse-racing industry. Beshear admitted earlier that the impact of online wagering on land gambling in the state was one of his concerns.
The Poker Players Alliance has condemned Governor Beshear’s actions and published on its website the list of seized domains, which includes absolutepoker.com, bodoglife.com, cakepoker.com, bugsysclub.com, doylesroom.com, fulltiltpoker.com, goldenpalace.com, pokerhost.com, pokerstars.com, pokertime.com, reeferpoker.com, riverbelle.com, royalvegas.com, sportsbook.com, ultimatebet.com, wsex.com, and microgaming.com.
According to the official complaint, the Commonwealth of Kentucky is seeking “seizure and forfeiture of internet domain names used to promote, conduct and/or advance illegal gambling” within its borders.