In the latest development of Kentucky’s attempt to seize 141 Internet gambling domain names, Kentucky Judge Thomas D. Wingate has dismissed all objections and has affirmed the seizure. The domains, including those of PokerStars and Full Tilt, are being given until November 17th to either restrict access to their site by Kentucky residents or have their domain names forfeited.
The ruling came Thursday evening after a day delay due to a “computer glitch.” Judge Wingate proceeded to say that all of the objections made to the seizure were to be dismissed. Arguments that Kentucky’s jurisdiction does not include governing the Internet was ignored on the basis that the Internet domain name serves as a gambling “device,” therefore making it illegal. Judge Wingate then said that the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act did not apply in this case. He also pointed out that Kentucky’s law states that games of chance are forbidden, no matter the proportion. This means that poker, even though it is argued to predominately be a game of skill, will not be treated any differently than the other gambling sites because it still includes at element of chance, no matter how small.
Fighting along with the legal defense of the domains were the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC), the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA), the Poker Players Alliance, the Internet Commerce Association, and a legal counsel for Network Solutions, Inc. Network Solutions, based out of California, serves as the domain registrar for some of the domain names at stake.
Two domain registrars have already given in and handed over registrar certificates to the control of the state of Kentucky. The two registrars are GoDaddy.com and Enom.com, both before those whose domains are registered with them were unable to defend themselves in court. GoDaddy.com handed control of 20 domain names, including that of UltimateBet and DoylesRoom, to Kentucky.
In short, in response to Governor Steve Beshear and Judge Thomas D. Wingate, the 141 domain names have 30 days to implement Internet geoblocking and the owners, not legal counsel, must appear in court on November 17th to prove that Kentucky-based Internet service providers cannot access their sites. Those that do not show or cannot prove that their sites are blocked will be forced to forfeit their domain name.
Several of the sites, whose domain names are registered outside of Kentucky, even outside of the United States, have chosen to ignore any ruling by Judge Wingate. They believe that the state of Kentucky’s jurisdiction does not apply outside of its borders.
The outcomes of this case and the willingness of the domains to fight for their rights could have major ramifications on the future of the Internet.