Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate awarded $870 Million to the state against Amaya, Inc., the parent company of the website PokerStars, for illegal play from 2006 to 2011 in Kentucky.  The State sued the company claiming that more than 34,000 Kentuckians lost more than $5, some of them much more.  Under an 1833 law the state claimed that it could sue on behalf of the players.  Amaya promised to appeal.

Amaya called the judgement a “misuse of an anachronistic statue.”  Wingate originally ruled in August for the state to the tune of $290 million, but the state asked him to review the computation of the ruling and triple the damages which the 1833 law allowed.  Wingate, on November 20 reaffirmed the calculation and tripled the damages.  Amaya claimed that PokerStars only grossed $18 million last year and the reward was ridiculous.  Wingate set the interest rate at 12% annually which also seems high.  On the other hand Amaya bought PokerStars for $4.9 Billion in 2014. This was a bad move since the lawsuit was filed in 2010.

The appeal will go to the Court of Appeals, and then to the Supreme Court and could take several years to resolve. Poker players have filed to intervene and claim the settlement, but without records to back up their claims they will probably be unsuccessful.  Maybe there is hope for the other court case against Instant Racing in the same courtroom.

Beth Musgrave, “Franklin Circuit judge awards $870 million to state in online gambling case,”   Lexington Herald-Leader, December 24, 2015.