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New Ruling in Kentucky Online Poker Court Case

March 19, 2010 (CAP Newswire) – In a possible setback to efforts to stop the state of Kentucky from seizing some 141 online poker domain names, the Supreme Court in that state has ruled that the case cannot be decided unless at least one representative of the Internet poker domains in question gets involved in the legal action. Currently, the action is principally being brought by online gaming activist groups Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) and Interactive Gaming Council (IGC).

“Although all such arguments may have merit, none can even be considered unless presented by a party with standing,” the court’s statement read. “No such party has appeared at the original proceedings in Franklin Circuit Court, the writ petition at the Court of Appeals, or on the appeal here to this Court.”

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

Five of the 141 online poker domain names did indeed have legal counsel representing them in the state. But the court ruled that the representation failed to meet the definition of “a person or legally recognized entity.”

So, those five sites and the others (which include CAP Listed Programs like Full Tilt Poker) once again stand at risk of being seized, as the case is referred back to Kentucky’s Court of Appeals, according to Poker News Daily.

It’s a setback, though probably not a significant one. As BusinessWeek explains, “the justices did not address [the main] issue in Thursday’s ruling.” If the domain names are able to step up their legal game, the case could still end favorably for the online poker industry.

“The 17-page opinion does not consider the larger questions in the case, such as whether the state has the right to seize gambling domain names that are operated outside Kentucky,” the state’s own Louisville Courier-Journal adds. “And it gives Web site owners the option of coming forward and re-arguing the case.”

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) remains confident that the eventual result will indeed be in online poker’s favor. “The PPA understands the technical nature of the decision issued today by the Kentucky Supreme Court and remains confident that, once that issue is cured, the Supreme Court will address the compelling merits of the arguments in support of the Court of Appeals decision prohibiting the Commonwealth’s seizure of 141 internet gaming sites,” PPA Executive Director John Pappas commented. “There are fundamental freedoms at stake in this case, not only the freedom of poker players in Kentucky and globally, but Internet freedom across the globe. The Commonwealth’s effort at such a bold, broad and, we believe, unlawful seizure sets a dangerous precedent for anyone who uses the Internet.”

In related news, Kentucky’s proposed online horse racing bill has been overhauled significantly. Read about that here, via BusinessWeek.