Tuesday March 18,2014 : POKERSTARS FENDS OFF ILLINOIS CLASS ACTION
Claims against parent The Rational Group dismissed by district court.
The Rational Group, parent company for Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker, won an important victory in a US district court this week when the class action claim founded by Illinois player parent Kelly Sonnenburg for a refund of losses was dismissed.
The claim attempted to exploit Illinois statutes by seeking refunds of losses on the grounds that online gambling was an illegal activity.
District Court Judge David R. Herndon dismissed the claim, prompting Rational Group's legal representative Jeff Ifrah, to opine that his decision is likely to prove fatal for Sonnenburg's class action.
“This is a major victory for PokerStars and instructive for other online gaming providers facing similar attacks from plaintiffs seeking unjust windfalls,” said Ifrah.
Under Illinois statutes, third parties can reclaim money lost in the case of illegal gambling from the winner, as long as the gamblers themselves failed to make such a claim within six months.
Sonnenberg launched the action in her capacity as the parent of an Illinois online poker player who lost money on PokerStars.
In his judgement, Judge Herndon found that because poker is a peer-to-peer game, PokerStars could not be construed as the “winner,” but “more akin to a third party service provider that provides a forum for others to play the game.”
The judge further found that Pokerstars had no stake in how the game was decided, and that the player involved had failed to define his losses.
“The first amended complaint is devoid of allegations stating the ‘who,’ ‘what’ and ‘when’ of the losses she seeks to recover,” Herndon said in his dismissal.