Kentucky Judge Thomas Wingate ruled in favor of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky; he decided to dismiss the motions brought on by representatives of 141 Internet domain names to end the case. With Wingate’s decision, the last hearing in the case will be held on November 17th to see whether or not the Commonwealth of Kentucky can indeed seize the 141 domain names in question.
Some of the popular gambling and poker site domain names that are on the list include PokerStars, BodogLife, FullTilt, SportsBook, LinesMaker, and GoldenPalace.A few of the groups representing these domain names – and others – at the hearing were the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), Network Solutions Inc., the Internet Commerce Association, the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA), and the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC). Despite the presence of these groups at the hearing, Judge Wingate did not accept any of the groups as proper representation for any of the 141 domain names in question. He instead simply referred to the collection as “Group 7” and “Group 2” while refusing to acknowledge either as true legal representatives for the domain names.
In his ruling against the various groups and domain names, Wingate’s decision stated,
“We note that Opposing Groups and Lawyers argue any judicial interference of the Internet will create havoc. The doomsday argument does not ruffle the Court. The Internet, with all its benefits and advantages to modern day commerce and life, is still not above the law, whether on an international or municipal level.”
Further points of his ruling admonished poker odds by stating,
“In the end, no matter how skillful or cunning the player, who wins and who loses is determined by the hands the players hold.”
Other points of the ruling made by Wingate include:
- Deeming Internet domain names to be gambling devices which therefore make them illegal under Kentucky law.
- Dismissing poker as a game of skill which annihilated the domain name representatives “friend of the court” defense.
- Making a point of how Kentucky law does not specify what percentage of chance a game needs to have to be considered gambling.
- Declaring that the domain names of the sites in question play a major part in allowing people to gamble online.
- Stating that the act of Internet geoblocking (preventing the computers of a certain area from accessing information) was a way that the gambling companies could abide by Kentucky law.
Many people expressed disappointment in Judge Wingate’s decision; Bluegrass Institute Public Policy and Communications Director Jim Waters said,
“It is hypocritical for a Governor who ran on a platform of expanded gambling in Kentucky to shut down internet gambling sites and do so in the face of competition. It’s hogwash. Governor Beshear is a high-tech hijacker and the Judge is his accomplice.”
The iMEGA group also weighed in on the matter through their statement that read,
Should the actions of Kentucky’s chief executive stand, the harm to Internet freedom would be immense. What a powerful weapon would be placed in the hands of government: to arbitrarily seize politically, religiously, or culturally-based Internet domains that may run contrary to the views of those in power.
Representatives for the 141 websites still expect to appeal the decision made by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to seize the domain names on November 17th.