POKER DOMAINS IN JEOPARDY AS KENTUCKY SUPREME COURT REVERSES CT. OF APPEALS – GAMBLING DOMAINS DID NOT HAVE STANDING TO FILE WRIT

 

 

 

OnThursday March 18, 2010 , the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that iMEGA and the Interactive Gaming Council had no standing to file a writ of prohibition that stopped the state of Kentucky from seizing control of several well-known poker domains, including sites associated with PokerStars, Full Tilt, DoylesRoom, Bodog, Absolute Poker, UltimateBet, and Cake Poker.

Therefore, it reversed the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruling and effectively ruled in favor — at least temporarily — of the state.

“Because the parties seeking the writ have failed to demonstrate that they have standing to do so, this Court reverses, though this done not foreclose the possibility of future relief,” wrote Justice Mary Noble in the court’s decision.

The Kentucky Supreme Court cited the associations’ failure to disclose who exactly they represented in the case.

“Instead of owners, operators, or registrants of the website domain names, the lawyers opposing the Commonwealth claimed to represent two types of entities: (1) the domain names themselves and (2) gaming trade association who profess to include as members registrants of the seized domains, though they have yet to reveal any of their identities.”

The court even acknowledged that the lawyers on behalf of the associations made “numerous, compelling arguments endorsing the grant of the writ of prohibition,” but that “(a)lthough all such arguments may have merit, none can even be considered unless presented by a party with standing.”

The court reiterated its position later in the decision.

“While IGC claims to represent 61 of the seized domains and iMEGA purports to represent ‘some’ more, this Court cannot simply take their words for it.”

Brennan seemed unfazed by the ruling, and issued a press release after it indicating that he was still optimistic the poker community would win out in the end.

“In the written decision, the Court clearly indicates they agree with our arguments, and are inviting us to refile, so that the technicality of the standing issue can be resolved,” said Brennan. “It’s unfortunate, but I can’t imagine that Kentucky’s lawyers will celebrate a ruling that says ‘Bring us an owner, so we can rule in your favor’”.

The court acknowledged that associations are not always legally responsible to divulge and identify specific members, but said that this case was atypical because “there is no stipulation as to iMEGA or IGC’s memberships” and that “nothing is known about their members.”

“Through their unwillingness to identify any of their members, iMEGA and IGC failed to meet this burden. As such, iMEGA and IGC lack standing and, therefore, their writ petition should have been denied,” Justice Noble wrote.

The court stated in its opinion that “(i)f a party that can properly establish standing comes forward, the writ petition giving rise to these proceedings could be re-filed with the Court of Appeals…Until then, however, consideration of the merits of this matter is improper for lack of standing.”

Justice Noble authored the decision, which had no dissenting votes. Justices John Minton, Lisabeth Hughes Abramson, Wil Schroder, and Daniel Venters concurred, with Deputy Chief Justice Will Scott concurring “in result only.”

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