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Kentucky appeals court overturns seizure of online gaming domains

January 24, 2008

Play free casino games like slots, video poker, online roulette, blackjack, baccarat, craps and more.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Kentucky can not seize 141 online casino gambling related domains because domain names are not gaming related devices under Kentucky law.

The new ruling overturns the October ruling made by Judge Thomas Wingate, a Franklin County Circuit, that made the decision that internet casino gaming related domains can be seized by the state because online gaming related domains constituted illegal gaming related devices that were prohibited by the Kentucky law.

The secretary of the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, J. Michael Brown, announced Wednesday that Kentucky would appeal Tuesday's decision.

J. Michael Brown stated that "The Commonwealth will continue its action to protect Kentucky citizens from illegal internet gaming related operations, and appeal the recent Court of Appeals ruling to the state Supreme Court... The evidence demonstrated that illegal and unregulated activity is occurring in Kentucky, and that millions of dollars are being lost as a result of that activity, a fact that wasn't disputed in Tuesday's ruling. We now have two judges who agree with our position, and two who disagree, so the most appropriate step is to make our case to the higher court."

Kentucky officials were promising an appeal while the online gaming related industry was celebrating this exquisite victory.

John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance claimed " This is a tremendous victory for Internet freedom and the rights of Kentucky residents who enjoy playing online poker... We are pleased that the appeals court has forcefully reversed Judge Wingate's earlier ruling and confirmed many of the arguments that have been raised in opposition to the seizure effort."

Judge Michelle Keller, writing for the majority, indicated Tuesday's ruling hinged on "whether domain names fall within the statutory definition" of Kentucky law.

Keller also wrote "It 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 gaming related... We are thus convinced that the trial court clearly erred in concluding that the domain names can be construed to be gaming related devices subject to forfeiture,"

The court also ruled that various Internet gaming related trade associations had standing to argue before the court.

Judge Jeff Taylor joined Keller in the majority decision while Judge Michael Caperton dissented that the Court needed to take a more expansive view of the definition of an online gaming related device.

Caperton stated "The Internet gaming related domains serve as addresses which enable the local computer to locate and communicate with the remote computer... While we see a name on the computer screen, the computer 'sees' a string of numbers. The 'string of numbers' is a necessary component' of the Internet gaming related device because without these numbers, the link between the computers could not be initiated and/or maintained. Just as a wire placed into a computer becomes part of the computer, so do the Internet domain names that link remote computers for purposes of gaming related become part of the gaming related device."

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