State's lawyers want to compartmentalise domains and deny iMEGA legal standing
It's been over two years since the state of Kentucky embarked on an extraordinary attempt to seize 141 international online gambling domain names owned by entities outside the Commonwealth , but this week saw another new move by Kentucky's legal representatives.
The issue, which has been fought all the way through a string of increasingly powerful state courts by pro-online gambling action groups iMEGA and the IGC, along with internet freedom organisations, remains unresolved, and the latest developments are unlikely to reduce the complicated legal technicalities being deployed.
Kentucky's lawyers have now introduced new motions applicable to a court hearing scheduled for December 6 in front of Judge Thomas Wingate, who originally ruled that Kentucky could exert jurisdiction over the 141 domain names specified in the state's case.
The state's legal representatives want to deny iMEGA legal standing to fight the case for the domain owners, and have also proposed that the 141 domains be compartmentalised into specific groups, ostensibly to more efficiently manage the large number of sites and presumably owners involved.
“In order to effectively manage the large number of sites, the Commonwealth suggests that the determination of identification and ownership of sites occur in groups," the state's submission to the court reads. "The Commonwealth requests that the initial group consist of playersonly.com, sportsbook.com, sportsinteraction.com, mysportsbook.com, and linesmaker.com.”
The motion suggests that the owner of the five named sites file a motion to intervene in the case within 30 days – somewhat of an overun on the actual hearing date of December 6.
Industry observers have noted that this may be a new tactic to pressure owners into coming forward and exposing themselves to the court's jurisdiction, or to abandon their domains.
The Boston-based iMEGA has reacted by indicating it intends to continue to pursue the dispute, confident in the knowledge that the domain owners have a strong and winnable case.
The action group has remained deeply involved throughout, successfully fighting the attempted domain seizure as far as the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court, which most recently referred the issue back to the trial court of Judge Wingate on the question of iMEGA's legal standing to remain involved.
In a what appears to be an attempt to preempt iMEGA's involvement, the state's lawyers this week asserted in support of their compartmentalisation initiative: “The Kentucky Supreme Court has held that neither iMEGA nor IGC have established standing in this matter. Moreover, neither iMEGA nor IGC claim to represent playersonly.com, sportsbook.com, sportsinteraction.com, mysportsbook.com, and linesmaker.com or their owners.”
Involving major industry names like Full Tilt Poker and Pokerstars, this issue appears set to continue for some time. It has spawned ancillary legal actions by the Commonwealth against a wide range of online gambling companies – some of them providers and not operators – in which the state has attempted to recoup losses it claims were suffered by its residents on internet gambling sites that it asserts are illegal in Kentucky.
The state has a lucrative land gambling sector, mainly involving horseracing and lotteries, which permits selective online gambling.