In breaking news from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the state’s Supreme Court has ruled against the owners of 141 internet gambling domain names, charging that the principal parties involved do not have standing. Read the entire Kentucky Supreme Court decision.
The case was thought to hinge on whether the 141 domain names at risk constituted “gambling devices” under Kentucky state law, a term traditionally reserved for tangible objects like slot machines and dice that you’d find in an underground casino. Instead, after briefly addressing the internet gambling industry’s major arguments, the Kentucky Supreme Court asserted, “Although all such arguments may have merit, none can even be considered unless presented by a party with standing. No such party has appeared at the original proceedings in Franklin Circuit Court, the writ petition at the Court of Appeals, or on the appeal here to this Court.”
The Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) and Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) were the major parties involved in the case acting on behalf of the domain name owners. Despite Thursday’s setback, iMEGA Chairman Joe Brennan commented in a press release, “In the written decision, the Court clearly indicates they agree with our arguments and are inviting us to re-file so that the technicality of the standing issue can be resolved. It’s unfortunate, but I can’t imagine that Kentucky’s lawyers will celebrate a ruling that says, ‘Bring us an owner so we can rule in your favor.’”
The Kentucky Supreme Court attacked iMEGA and the IGC, noting that the two groups lacked organizational standing, as neither trade organization has informed the Court of its membership. The Kentucky Supreme Court decision read in part, “In fact, nothing is known about their members, other than their attorneys’ vague assertions they represented ‘some’ of the registrants.” In summary, the state Supreme Court explained, “Through their unwillingness to identify any of their members, iMEGA and IGC failed to meet this burden. As such, iMEGA and IGC lack standing and, therefore, their writ petition should have been denied.”
Five of the 141 domain names – PlayersOnly.com, Sportsbook.com, SportsInteraction.com, MySportsbook.com, and Linesmaker.com – had legal counsel in Kentucky for representation. However, the state Supreme Court continued along its path and explained, “Just as with real property, a domain name cannot own itself; it must be owned by a person or legally recognized entity.” Therefore, the fives sites will once again be at risk of forfeiture.
The case was referred back to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, where iMEGA and IGC’s writ of prohibition may now be dismissed. Information distributed by iMEGA on Thursday morning noted that the organization had 20 days to re-file with the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the case may immediately make its way back to the state Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Minton, Justice Lisabeth Hughes Abramson, Justice Wil Schroder, and Justice Daniel J. Venters all concurred with the ruling, while Chief Justice Will T. Scott concurred in “result only.” The decision was written by Justice Mary C. Noble.
The information sent by iMEGA explains that the trade organization “would quickly file a motion to satisfy the Court.” The Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet brought the case under the direction of Governor Steve Beshear. The Cabinet’s Secretary is J. Michael Brown.
Brennan told Poker News Daily that iMEGA would likely only need to identify one of its members as a party at risk in order to satisfy organizational standing. However, that member would not necessarily be required to travel to Kentucky and risk further legal action. Brennan told us, “We can make a motion at the Court of Appeals to move the case back to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court indicated that they’d hear it.” No further oral arguments or briefings would be required if standing is met.
Domains like FullTiltPoker.com and PokerStars.com are among those at risk. Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest on the Kentucky internet gambling case.