The audacious assault, orchestrated by Kentucky Governor Steve Bashear, designed to seize control of 141 domain names owned by the industries most prominent gambling organizations has hit a roadblock. All eyes were on Franklin County Circuit Court judge Thomas Wingate as he granted a continuance on the case, with proceedings to resume on October 7th. Calling the case “very complex” he asked both sides to spend more time preparing their case before he made his final decision.
The action was originally brought on behalf of the Commonwealth of Kentucky by their Secretary of Justice and Public Safety, Michael Brown. Gambling on games of chance is outlawed in the state, and those sites that were offering such services to the populous of Kentucky made up the contents of the 141 strong list. Bashear had damned these organizations as “leeches on our community,” seeking to divert the millions of dollars spent every year by residents of the state into Kentucky’s ailing horse racing industry.
Although the vast majority of the sites targeted filed objections there were two that neglected to do so. Both highrollerslounge.com and luckypyramidcasio.com failed to act before the hearing and had their domain names handed over to Kentucky state authorities. Although the state’s government claims not to have shut down the sites, neither website has been accessible over the past week. Other, higher profile, domain names under threat should Steve Bashear have his way include BodogLife.com, FullTiltPoker.com and PokerStars.com.
Over 20 attorneys, representing a variety of gambling industry organizations, were present on behalf of the defense – including staff from the Poker Players Alliance (PPA). Their attempts to absolve poker from any wrongdoing challenge the very foundation of Kentucky’s case – that poker is a game of chance. The PPA’s State Director for Kentucky, Rich Muny, said of the case:
“The actions by the Commonwealth of Kentucky are not only extreme, but groundless in that it can be clearly proven that poker is indeed a game of skill and not chance and thereby poker Web sites should not be part of the state’s action.”
He also revealed that a continuation had been the aim of the hearing from the get go.
“We wanted to get a continuance so that they couldn’t enact the order. We wanted to get more time to prove our case.”
Onlookers have suggested that the break will provide time for both sides to hash out a deal. The recent decision of a small number of the 141 sites targeted to stop offering services to Kentucky residents may add credence to this suggestion. Although the likelihood of 141 separate companies coming to an agreement with the state over the next 5 days is still an outside bet. More insidious is the precedent the case may set for the seizing of domain names by government organizations.