In a shocking 43-page written opinion, Circuit Court Judge Thomas D. Wingate upheld Kentucky’s right to seize over 140 internet domain names that are related to gambling or internet poker.
Judge Wingate dismissed all objections to the forfeiture of the domain names and disagreed with the “friends of the court” arguments made by the Poker Players Alliance that poker specific domain names such as Full Tilt and PokerStars, deserve special consideration, since poker is considered by Kentucky law to be a game of skill.
Judge Wingate’s written opinion, which can be found on the PPA’s website , clearly states that Kentucky does have the judicial authority to seize domain names which are being accessed by Kentuckians, whether or not the companies that control those domain names reside there.
His opinion effectively argues that internet control is a state right, and he dismissed any claims that individual state judicial interference would “create havoc.” Judge Wingate, in his conclusion, wrote that, “The internet, with all its benefits and advantages to modern day commerce and life, is still not above the law.”
In his summary statements, Wingate suggested that the 141 domain names in question use “geoblocking” to stop servicing Kentucky players. In other words, the individual sites must install software on their servers which will identify IP addresses from Kentuckians, and then block their access. If the sites choose to comply with this order within the next 30 days, their domain names will not be seized.
Judge Wingate’s written opinion could have far-reaching consequences beyond merely playing internet poker, and if it stands up to all the inevitable appeals, the internet may never be the same – effectively putting it at the mercy of any legal body that wants to control its content. This possibility was not lost on Rich Muny, Kentucky State Director of the Poker Players Alliance, who had this to say about Wingate’s decision:
“Judge Wingate’s order is a huge disappointment to the thousands of Kentuckians who play Internet poker. In essence, Governor Beshear and Judge Wingate are denying law-abiding citizens this form of recreation simply because it is enjoyed on the Internet. This is Internet censorship by judicial fiat, plain and simple.”
Story by Mark Anderson