Franklin County Judge Has Awarded $870 Million to the State in an Online Gambling Case

A Franklin Circuit Court judge awarded $870 million to the state in a judgement against PokerStars an online gambling company.

Judge Thomas Wingate ruled recently that the state was entitled to triple the damages in a 2010 lawsuit against Amaya Inc., who is the parent company of PokerStars. The state sued PokerStars, they alleged that during the period of Oct. 12, 2006, to April 15, 2011, over 34,000 Kentucky players lost at lease $5 or more playing poker on their websites.

The company as sued for illegally operating in Kentucky, the state used an 1833 statute, arguing that it was allowed to seek damages on the poker players behalf.

Lawyer for Amaya, Sheryl Snyder, said recently that Amaya would be appealing the award and stated that the award of $870 million against the companies who produced a revenue of $18 million for that period in question was gross misuse of an anachronistic statute.

Judge Wingate who issued the ruling in favor or the state during August, 2015. And in November 20, he issued an order awarding the initial damages of $290 million. The lawyers for the state asked Judge Wingate to reconsider calculations of how arrived at the $290 million judgment at the same time asking for the damages to be tripled. The lawyers for Amaya also requested Wingate to reconsider the Nov. 20 order.

Judge Wingate then took sides with the state keeping the initial judgment of $290 million and then saying that it was allowed to triple the damages under law. The whole amount awarded the state came to $870,690,233. Judge Wingate has also set the interest rate at 12% annually until it is paid.

Mr. Snyder said that Amaya would ask Judge Wingate to reconsider portions of his decision. However, the issue will probably end up in the states Court of Appeals or states Supreme Court. Which means that a final decision may not be reached for several years.

According to the 1833 statute it allows a third party to sue in order to recover gambling losses should a gambler not sue him/herself within six months of the loss. Lawyers for Amaya have argued that the state is not a third party and therefore cannot sue for the losses. The state disagrees and has argued that they can under the statute.

Recently a group of poker players filed a motion of intervention in the case, saying that they are entitled to a portion or of the judgment. But, the lawyers for the state have argued that the poker players have known about this lawsuit since 2010 and that they filed their motion to intervene specifically to help Amaya. Judge Wingate has not ruled on that motion.