4/13/10 – Kentucky governor Steve Beshear's latest attempt to squeeze money out of the offshore Internet gambling industry will have little upside for Kentucky taxpaying gamblers, according to a report in ABC News this week.
The publication was examining the implications of the Democratic Party politician's use of an obscure century-old law to file a lawsuit against Pocket Kings, Ltd., an online betting business based in Dublin, Ireland which also operates under the name Full Tilt Poker. The law allows claims of up to three times losses in illegal gambling disputes.
"There is a law on the books that allows someone to recover gambling losses from illegal gaming," Jennifer Brislin, a representative from Beshear's office told the ABC News Law & Justice Unit, adding that the Beshear administration feared the online gaming industry was taking advantage of laws put in place before the Internet existed.
"The Internet posed a conundrum that wasn't thought of when the laws were put on the books, the idea of a virtual casino you can go to," Brislin said. "These groups shouldn't be able to hide offshore and flaunt our laws."
She said that Kentucky felt compelled to enforce the anti-casino law because Kentuckians were losing their money to what she said was an illegal operation.
However, Kentucky players will not be seeing a cent of the money recovered in the unlikely event that the governor's action is successful – the governor's office told ABC News that no private citizens would recoup funds if Kentucky wins its case.
"As far as the money is concerned, any losses that would be recovered would go to the commonwealth on behalf of its citizens, so an individual would not receive those funds," Brislin commented.
It seems that Beshear's efforts to confiscate international Internet domains belonging to offshore online gambling groups, and this latest attempt to deploy such an old statute, are being watched with interest by other American states anxious to kill off Internet gambling. Brislin said other states have contacted the governor's office.
"This is an issue that is a state issue, but everyone deals with," Brislin said. "We have gotten many inquiries from other states asking "What was it you did? How did you do it?"
The respected legal expert on Internet gambling, Professor I Nelson Rose, repeated his opinion that there were major weaknesses in the latest Kentucky case when approached by ABC News.
"We are dealing with an ancient statute that is from [a time] when all gambling was outlawed everywhere and it comes [across] as a little bit hypocritical for the largest racing state in the country," he said, noting that the attorney general of Kentucky had decided not to take on the case despite the fact that Beshear's administration had asked the state AG to review it.
"The governor is running a strange campaign," Rose said. "And they couldn't even get the state attorney general to go along with it, so hired a private firm."
Beshear's office confirmed that the Lexington law firm Hurt, Crosbie and May has been brought in to handle the matter.
A representative from state Attorney General Jack Conway's office told ABC News that they could not comment on this filing in particular, except to say that they reviewed the case and decided not to take it on.
Jon Fleischaker, a Kentucky attorney who works for the gambling industry, echoed Rose's sentiments.
"There are those of us who believe the state is going down a false path," Fleischaker said. "We are not sure this lawsuit can be brought by anyone besides the AG and it's something that is being looked into."