In the American state of Kentucky and officials have reportedly filed a lawsuit in an effort to collect $100 million in bonds that were posted by the former operator of the PokerStars online poker brand some five years ago.
According to a Thursday report from the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper, the guarantee was deposited by Amaya Incorporated in 2015 as it embarked on a lengthy appeal to a Franklin Circuit Court judgement regarding its operations in ‘The Bluegrass State’. This ruling had purportedly ordered the firm to forfeit $290 million after it was adjudged to have run its PokerStars service in Kentucky between 2006 and 2011 in violation of a federal prohibition introduced under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
This penalty was reportedly later tripled at the request of the state as Amaya Incorporated changed its name to The Stars Group Incorporated and continued to pursue the matter through the courts. The Kentucky Court of Appeals subsequently overturned this earlier ruling just as the Toronto-headquartered operator and its PokerStars brand were being bought by British and Irish iGaming behemoth Flutter Entertainment for $6 billion.
However, an appeal from the state saw the Kentucky Supreme Court uphold the Franklin Circuit Court ruling in December to potentially put Flutter Entertainment on the hook for up to $1.3 billion in damages. This seven-member body purportedly made its decision final yesterday by refusing to re-hear the case after having earlier described the PokerStars service as ‘an illegal Internet gambling criminal syndicate’.
The newspaper reported that this latter snub prompted Kentucky to immediately file a motion with the Franklin Circuit Court asking to recoup some of these reparations beginning with the $100 million bond that was deposited by Amaya Incorporated way back in 2015. This body is now purportedly set to begin hearing the state’s request via an April 19 hearing on behalf of the around 34,000 Kentuckians who are estimated to have lost in the region of $290 million to PokerStars between 2006 and 2011.
In its December ruling, the Kentucky Supreme Court reportedly proclaimed that the state’s attempt to recover the PokerStars-related funds would not constitute a windfall but would rather be ‘a recoupment of some portion of the countless dollars the criminal syndicate has cost Kentucky collectively and Kentuckians individually’. The jurisdiction’s highest court furthermore purportedly asserted that the local government had incurred ‘financial losses’ as a result of the online poker domain’s illicit operation along with ‘tragic damage to its citizens’.
Reportedly read a segment of the Kentucky Supreme Court’s judgement…
“Mental and physical health care systems that care for the citizens harmed by illegal gambling are supported in part by the state. Money sent to offshore gambling accounts is lost and the state is deprived of the taxes to which it is entitled. The cost to prosecute and incarcerate individuals who resort to crime to support their gambling is a huge cost on Kentucky’s strained and overextended penal system.”