In a game of semantics, Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky called the online gambling domains “gambling devices” which are illegal in the US state. Beshear, through Secretary of the Justice Michael Brown, filed for and was granted an order of seizure for the 141 domains in question from the county circuit judge on September 18. In reality, only two domains, luckypyramidcasino.com and highrollerslounge.com, were actually seized due to their registration with a US-based registrar. Some of the websites targeted by the order included PokerStars, AbsolutePoker, Bodoglife and FullTiltPoker.
Beshear claims that online poker is illegal in the state of Kentucky and that the domains were of companies that were allowing citizens of the state to register and use their gambling facilities. He claims that the seizure is an effort to get the companies to cease offering services to residents of Kentucky.
“Unlicensed, unregulated, illegal Internet gambling poses a tremendous threat to the citizens of the Commonwealth because of its ease, availability and anonymity,” said Governor Steve Beshear in a statement. “The owners and operators of these illegal sites prey on Kentucky citizens, including our youth, and deprive the Commonwealth of millions of dollars in revenue. It’s an underworld wrought with scams and schemes.”
“By seizing the domain names, Kentucky can require that the illegal casino operators use readily available technology to block their domains from being accessed in the Commonwealth,” the statement said.
Governor Beshear has stirred a lot of controversy with his actions and has been accused of hypocrisy due to his desire and lobbying to expand brick and mortar gambling establishments in the state. Among the reasons that he espouses to justify the seizure, he says the sites could be preying on youths, not paying their winners and even funding terrorists.
“This is a threat to national security,” he said.
Uh, okay, enough of the rhetoric given to prey on the publics fears. How about the real reason he wants the domains seized and online gambling stopped? We can find that in his own statements given during a press conference. As usual, it appears to boil down to money.
“Unlike casinos that operate on land or on riverboats in the United States, these operations pay no tax revenues, provide no jobs and yield no tourism benefits,” Beshear said at a Monday afternoon Capitol press conference. “They are leeches on our communities.”
Blocking internet gambling sites in Kentucky would “protect the signature industry,” Beshear said, referring to the state lottery, bingo halls and the state’s pride – horse racing.
Such sites “siphon off money from regulated and legal games such as Kentucky’s thoroughbred racing industry, our lottery and charitable gaming activities,” Beshear said.
Two of the largest online gambling trade associations, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA) have filed what is known as “friend of the court” briefs to point out to the presiding judge the complexities of the case. Approximately two dozen lawyers representing various trade groups as well as internet commerce groups were present at the September 26 hearing.
Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate granted a continuance in the case until next week in order for the defendants to prepare their legal briefs. The judge admitted that it’s a “very complex” case and he would like additional time to review the documents filed so far and to be sure that he had an adequate understanding of the whole issue. In the meantime, the seizure order is frozen until the case has been decided.