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Kentucky Domain Ruling Set Back for Gambling Groups
March 20,  2010
Last week's decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court that it could not rule in favor on gambling proponents in the long drawn out case regarding domain names proved to be a setback for groups such as iMEGA and the Poker Players Alliance.

However, these groups are positive that as the case was only thrown out on a technicality, they have room to appeal and will be taking the matter back to court in no time.

The Kentucky domain case began several years ago, in September 2008, when Governor Steve Beshear, in his attempts to curb online gambling in the state, announced his intentions to seize the domain names of 141 casino and poker sites, including sites such as Golden Palace, Full Tilt Poker, Poker Stars and Doyles Room.

The decision caused such an uproar among gambling and non-gambling groups alike, that it was challenged in court. Against all logic, Judge Thomas Wingate dismissed these objections and ruled that Beshear had the right to seize the domain names as they were being used to facilitate online gambling within Kentucky's borders.

Represented by groups such as iMEGA and the PPA, the online gambling sites took the decision to the Kentucky Appeals Court which ruled in a 2 to 1 majority that the Commonwealth did not have the right to take the domain names.

At the time, the ruling Judge Michelle Keller wrote: "It stretches credulity to conclude that a series of numbers, or internet address, can be said to constitute a 'machine or any mechanical or other device... designed and manufactured primarily for use in connection with gambling'. We are thus convinced that the trial court clearly erred in concluding that the domain names can be construed to be gambling devices."

Incredibly, Governor Beshear would not accept defeat and decided that it justified spending precious taxpayers money to take the ruling to an even higher court, the Kentucky Supreme Court.

After waiting several months, all sides heard on Thursday that the Supreme Court felt that it could not rule in favor of the gambling groups as none of the actual owners of the sites had been present for the hearing. As such, the case was essentially dismissed on a technicality, in theory granting Beshear victory.

However, all options are open to launch a re-filing of the appeal by simply producing one of the parties that own just one of domain names - not an impossible feat.

As the Chairman of iMEGA, Joe Brennan said: "In the written decision, the Court clearly indicates they agree with our arguments and are inviting us to re-file so that the technicality of the standing issue can be resolved. It's unfortunate, but I can't imagine that Kentucky's lawyers will celebrate a ruling that says 'Bring us an owner so that we can rule in your favor'.

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