In breaking news, the Kentucky Court of Appeals has granted a motion that may return the case involving the seizure of 141 internet gambling domain names back to the state’s Supreme Court. The URLs in jeopardy include PokerStars.com and FullTiltPoker.com.
The Kentucky Supreme Court has not formally announced that it will take the case for a second time. Last Monday, the owners of the domain name TruePoker.com stepped forward and signed an affidavit admitting membership to the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA). At the same time, iMEGA Chairman Joe Brennan signed an affidavit of his own pledging that TruePoker.com owners Yatahay Limited were members of the trade organization. iMEGA then filed a motion to transfer the case from the Kentucky Court of Appeals to the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Last week, Brennan commented in a press release that he was optimistic the Kentucky Supreme Court would ultimately grant the motion: “The Court can now make a decision based on Kentucky law. Based on the language of the decision, we know the Court wants to do just that. We know that the law favors us, and frankly, so do the Commonwealth’s attorneys.” In its verdict released on March 18th, the Kentucky Supreme Court called iMEGA’s arguments “numerous [and] compelling,” but declared that the organization lacked standing because none of its membership was ever identified.
Brennan told Poker News Daily why the organization did not release the names of any of its members during the course of the Kentucky litigation, which has spanned 18 months: “We didn’t disclose our membership when we were in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, either. It really is a leap of faith of say that you want to take on the government. Since the beginning, it’s been a leap of faith to join an organization that’s going to sue the government three times. That’s why we’ve not named any of our members.”
Brennan noted that no additional filings or oral arguments would be needed if the case returns to the Kentucky Supreme Court. The southern state’s highest legislative body only releases court decisions once per month and must still formally take the case. The next date comes on April 22nd. Other release dates in 2010 include May 20th, June 17th, August 26th, September 23rd, October 21st, November 18th, and December 16th. The court does not meet in July.
On why the Kentucky Supreme Court may have addressed iMEGA’s lack of standing when the Kentucky Court of Appeals overlooked the issue, Brennan told Poker News Daily, “If the state Supreme Court anticipates that one party or the other may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, they want to address every defect before ruling.” The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled by a 2:1 margin that the Commonwealth did not have jurisdiction to act.
The URLs were seized back in September 2008 allegedly without due process under the guise that they constituted “gambling devices” under Kentucky state law. The two-word phrase generally refers to physical objects like slot machines and roulette wheels that you’d find in an underground casino. Judge Thomas Wingate ruled in favor of the State one month later and iMEGA and company sought the intervention of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, which passed down its favorable ruling in January 2009. Commonwealth attorneys appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which hosted oral arguments last October.
The Court of Appeals signed off on iMEGA’s motion on Friday and the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) filed a similar document shortly thereafter. As of the time of writing, the IGC’s motion had not yet been acted on. Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest from the Kentucky internet gambling case.