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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Appeal Arguments Heard in Kentucky Online Domain Case

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Arguments were presented in the Court of Appeals of Kentucky on December 12th, and the poker community, as well as personal freedom and privacy rights advocacy groups
everywhere, anxiously await the decision that could come at any time. The case regarding the 141 internet domain names pursued by the Commonwealth of Kentucky under the order of Governor Steve Beshear now hinges upon the appeals court ruling.

When Judge Thomas Wingate rendered his decision on October 16th to allow the Commonwealth to seize the 141 internet gaming domain names, there was a time allowed of approximately 30 days for the sites to enforce their own ban that would restrict access and disallow Kentucky residents. However, just as that deadline approached, the Internet Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA) filed a petition for an appeal, and the writ was granted to stay the original decision until the December 12th appeals hearing.

Others joined the fight against the seizure of the domain names. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) filed a collective amicus brief to contest the violation of free speech rights. They also contended that the state court had no right to authorize the seizure based on the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, Commerce Clause, and Due Process Clause.

The iMEGA attorney, along with lawyers for the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) and William Johnson of Kentucky, brought their arguments to the Kentucky Court of Appeals and asked that the lower court ruling be overturned on the basis that the attorneys for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, at the original court hearing, received their court order without due process of criminal or civil proceedings to declare the 141 domain name owners guilty of any wrongdoing. The lead attorney for iMEGA, Jon L. Fleischaker from Louisville’s own Dinsmore & Shohl, stated, “It is not sufficient for the state or a lower court judge to decide on their own that there is a criminal violation. They don’t like this [internet gaming], so they seized the names without hearing or process.”

At least one of the Appeals Court judges questioned the commonwealth’s referral to the domain names as “gambling devices.” Notably, the lead attorney for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Erik Lycan, responded to the questioning with a broad statement that gave an idea of the premise under which the state is operating in this case. When Judge Michelle M. Keller mentioned that the “gambling devices” assertion would also, then, give the state the right to seize buses that transported people across the border to gamble in another state’s casino, Lycan responded affirmatively. He asserted, stunningly, that the state does have the right to seize those means of transport.

When all arguments concluded, iMEGA left with a positive feeling about the hearing. The organization’s chairman Joe Brennan Jr. commented, “Clearly, our attorney and the lawyers representing the other groups were excellent. They were very comfortable with the give-and-take with the judges, and had a command of these important issues. We’re very confident that we will prevail in this matter and put a stop to this dangerous precedent being set by the governor with this action.”

The decision of the Kentucky Appeals Court could come at any time.

*US CITIZENS now is the time to prepare for your future freedom and the right to play online poker! Are you naive enough to believe that if you do nothing the issue will resolve itself?  Contact your state representatives now and let them know your freedoms are at stake with the banning of online poker, step up to the plate and do your share to keep America the land of the free!  Join the Poker Players Alliance today and make a difference!*

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