Significant interest in Kentucky case

Next Tuesday's resumption of debate on the legality of the attempt by the state of Kentucky to seize control of 141 international online gambling domains (see previous InfoPowa reports) continues to generate significant interest both within and outside of the industry.

Judge Thomas Wingate of the Franklin Circuit Court, who had earlier signed off on a temporary seizure of domains through registrars at the behest of outsourced lawyers working for the state, faced a platoon of legal representatives from online gambling companies, trade associations and public interest groups supporting freedom of speech and the Internet at the initial hearing last week.

Lawyers for both sides argued legal technicalities centred on the legal standing and identification of domain owners and claims that the action against 141 domain names took place "under cover" and with no notice to their clients. They sought a continuation to brief Judge Wingate on matters of law which they contended will demonstrate the court has no jurisdiction and should dismiss the action.

Judge Wingate gave all involved until October 7 to submit detailed legal briefs on their positions and qualifications for legal standing. The judge pointed out that the case was a complex matter in law where decisions reached could set precedents and have far reaching consequences outside the online gambling industry . It was therefore appropriate that those with the right to be heard submitted their arguments for debate and examination.

However, the judge sounded an ominous note when he told lawyers representing the domain names at issue: "You are going to have to eventually pony up and say who these people are."

In the meantime the judge's temporary seizure of the domains remains in place.

The October 7 hearing looks likely to be even more crowded as opponents to the Kentucky state's action, which officials have admitted is aimed at forcing operators to bar Kentucky online gamblers and pay unspecified compensation to state coffers, present their arguments in a case that is already attracting wide mainstream publicity.

The state's lawyers, employed on a contingency "no win no pay" deal, have claimed that online gambling falls within existing legislation which prohibits 'gambling devices' because domain names can be classified as such devices, a point that will no doubt be hotly contested. Online gambling is not specifically declared illegal in Kentucky, where Governor Steve Beshear has proved to be a staunch supporter of land-based casino and horseracing activity.

Among those who will have legal representatives present are the Internet Gaming Counsel, The Poker Players Alliance, iMEGA, the Internet Commerce Association and the Americans for Tax Reform, and it is understood that an open press conference is planned for the day before the October 7 hearing where a diverse range of representative bodies will make relevant statements.

The executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, John Pappas is driving the press conference and urges all interested parties to discuss participation with him by using the PPA website.

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