In America, the three-Judge panel tasked with deciding whether the state of Kentucky has the right to seize 141 domain names associated with online gambling has returned its verdict after hearing oral arguments last month.
By a two-to-one margin, the Kentucky Appeals Court in Louisville ruled against the state on Tuesday, overturning an earlier decision by Judge Thomas Wingate of the lower Kentucky Circuit Court.
The decision should finally end efforts by Governor Steve Beshear to close any domains that allowed Kentuckians to gamble online while at the same time allowing virtual horserace betting sites to flourish.
In her majority decision, Judge Michelle Keller found that the domain names in question, which included AbsolutePoker.com, BodogLife.com, CakePoker.com, DoylesRoom.com, FullTiltPoker.com and PokerStars.com, had never been classified as illegal gambling devices under Kentucky law, as was claimed, meaning that the state could not rightfully proceed with the seizures.
“[I]t 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,” wrote Judge Keller.
“We are thus convinced that the trial court clearly erred in concluding that the domain names can be construed to be gambling devices.”
Also in the majority, Judge Jeff Taylor stated that Kentucky could not seek a civil forfeiture based on a criminal statute unless there was a criminal proceeding. As this had failed to happen, he found that the state had overstepped its boundaries by trying to seize property that was outside of its jurisdiction.
The appeal was initiated by the Interactive Media Entertainment And Gaming Association (iMEGA) and the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) last month. Both groups argued that the state’s attorneys had improperly tried to create a hybrid of criminal and civil laws in order to justify seizing the domains without any normal criminal or civil proceedings.